Jitterbug Perfume by Tom Robbins

The problem with this book is, it’s living proof that an excellent writer can take tried-and-true elements—things that, by themselves, seem like great ideas—and combine them in a wholly unsatisfying way. Kind of how an award-winning chef might take your five favorite foods and combine them into an unrecognizable, unappetizing, putrid mush.

Another (related) problem is that Jitterbug Perfume simply isn’t a good book.

Admittedly, after reading Another Roadside Attraction, Still Life With Woodpecker, and Half Asleep in Frog Pajamas, I’d set my expectations pretty high. Did I expect Jitterbug Perfume to be similarly brilliant? I’d say yes. At the very least, I’d expected it to be a fun, irreverent, clever read. Here’s an inside tip: it’s not.

It’s no minor detail that I didn’t bother to finish this book, stopping at page 212. It’s. Not. A. Good. Book.

Are there passages that are clever? Yes, certainly. Brilliant? Maybe, though I shudder to think of any brilliant passages being trapped inside this awful shell of a book. Are there parts that are fun? Without a doubt. Do all these parts fit together into one seamless whole? Do they contribute to an interesting, wildly comic, epic story? Not in the least.

I can’t disrecommend this book enough. If you’ve found yourself maybe a little bit intrigued by Tom Robbins, the author, I’d heartily recommend the other books I mentioned above. But put Jitterbug Perfume on your do-not-read list. I’ve already suffered, and you shouldn’t have to.