One of my favourite things in the world is to read a book review that makes you instantly – and I mean within 90 seconds – rush out and buy the book in question. This week’s New Yorker has such a review, written by John Lanchester. It’s ostensibly an article about smells, but towards the end it focuses on the book Perfumes: The Guide by Turin and Sanchez. I know absolutely bugger all about perfumes* but this book sounds too good to pass up. Here, for example, is their review of Amarige, from Givenchy:
“If you are reading this because it is your darling fragrance, please wear it at home exclusively, and tape the windows shut.”
And Lanchester’s review also contains the perfect sentence:
“It is as if the history of painting had proceeded via the invention of new colors.”
Anyhow, do read the review – it’s a fantastic piece of writing. And if you’re new to Lanchester, I can highly recommend his novel from 7 or 8 years ago, Mr. Phillips.
* Case in point: when I purchased some shaving cream in a department store in Dallas the other day, the cashier was kind enough to put two samples in the bag – one for a scent by Prada (which I still haven’t tried), the other a scent by Hermes which I just assumed was made for men – why else would she have given me the sample? – and which describes itself as “The unexpected caress of leather among flowers.” So I tried it and loved it, only to find out that (a) it’s for women and (b) in the delicate words of Gabriella in the office here, it “smells like old ladies.”