Jitterbug Perfume

Jitterbug Perfume



The Pequod Review:

Jitterbug Perfume is a significant improvement over its predecessor (Still Life with Woodpecker, 1980). The narrative’s dual storylines involve the re-creation of a powerful 300-year-old perfume, and the travels of a medieval king who lives for a thousand years (ultimately becoming the janitor in Albert Einstein’s lab). This time, Robbins’s pseudo-philosophical observations are coherent enough to sometimes work: 

The beet is the most intense of vegetables. The radish, admittedly, is more feverish, but the fire of the radish is a cold fire, the fire of discontent not of passion. Tomatoes are lusty enough, yet there runs through tomatoes an undercurrent of frivolity. Beets are deadly serious…. The beet is the murderer returned to the scene of the crime. The beet is what happens when the cherry finishes with the carrot. The beet is the ancient ancestor of the autumn moon, bearded, buried, all but fossilized; the dark green sails of the grounded moon-boat stitched with veins of primordial plasma; the kite string that once connected the moon to the Earth now a muddy whisker drilling desperately for rubies.

The beet was Rasputin's favorite vegetable. You could see it in his eyes.