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Original Essays | September 17, 2014

Merritt Tierce: IMG Has My Husband Read It?



My first novel, Love Me Back, was published on September 16. Writing the book took seven years, and along the way three chapters were published in... Continue »
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    Love Me Back

    Merritt Tierce 9780385538077

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1 Burnside Literature- A to Z

Jitterbug Perfume

by

Jitterbug Perfume Cover

ISBN13: 9780553348989
ISBN10: 0553348981
Condition: Standard
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Excerpt

The citadel was dark, and the heroes were sleeping. When they breathed, it sounded as if they were testing the air for dragon smoke.

On their sofas of spice and feathers, the concubines also slept fretfully. In those days, the earth was till flat, and people dreamed often of falling over edges.

Blacksmiths hammered the Edge Serpent on the anvils of their closed eyelids. Wheelwrights rolled it, tail in mouth, down the cart roads of their slumber. Cooks roasted it in dream pits, seamstresses sewed it to the badge hides that covered them, the court necromancer traced its contours in the constellation of straw on which he tossed. Only the babes in the nursery lay peacefully, passive even to the fleas that supped on their tenderness.

King Alobar did not sleep well at all. He was as awake as the guards at the gate. More awake, actually, for the guards mused dreamily about mead, boiled beets, and captive women as their eyes patrolled the forested horizon, while the king was as conscious as an unsheathed knife; coldly conscious and warmly troubled. Beside him, inside the ermine blankets, his great hound, Mik, and his wife, Alma, snoozed the night away, oblivious to their lord's distress. Well, let them snore, for neither the dog's tongue, not the wife's could lap the furrows from his brow, although he had sent for Alma that evening mainly because of her tongue. Alma's mouth, freshly outlined with beet paint, was capable of locking him in a carnal embrace that while it endured forbade any thoughts of the coils beyond the brink. Alas, but it could endure for so long, and no sooner was Alma hiccuping the mushroom scent of his spurt than he was regretting his choice. He should have summoned Wren, his favorite wife, for though Wren lacked Alma's special sexual skills, she knew his heart. He could confide in Wren without fear that his disclosures would be woven into common gossip on the concubines' looms.

Alobar's castle, which in fact was a simple fort of stone and wood surrounded by a fence of tree trunks, contained treasures, not the least of which was a slab of polished glass that had come all the way from Egypt to show the king his face. The concubines adored this magic glass, and Alobar, whose face was so obscured by whiskers that its reflection offered a minimum of contemplative reward, was content to leave it in their quarters, where they would spend hours each day gazing at the wonders that it reproduced. Once, a very young concubine named Frol had dropped the mirror, breaking off a corner of it. The council had wanted to banish her to the forest, where wolves or warriors from a neighboring domain might suck her bones, but Alobar had intervened, limiting her punishment to thirty lashes. Later, when her wounds had healed, she bore him fine twin sons. From that time on, however, the king visited the harem each new moon to make sure the looking glass had not lost its abilities.

Now, on this day, the new moon of the calendar we know as September, when Alobar conducted his routine inspection, he looked into the mirror longer, more intently than usual. Something in the secrets and shadows of the imperfectly polished surface caught his eye. He stared, and as he stared his pulse began to run away with itself. He carried the glass to an open window, where refracting sparks of sunshine enlivened its ground but refused to alter its message. "So soon?" he whispered, as he tilted the mirror. Another angle, the same result. Perhaps the glass is tricking me, he thought. Magic things are fond of deceptions.

Although the day was rather balmy, he pulled up the hood of his rough linen cloak and, blushing like blood's rich uncle, thrust the mirror into the hands of the nearest concubine, who happened to be Frol. The other women gasped. They rushed to relieve her of the precious object. Alobar left the room.

With some difficulty, for others tried to insist on accompanying him, the king excused himself from court and took the giant dog Mik for a romp outside the citadel gate. Circuitously, he made his way into the woods to a spring he knew. There, he fell to his knees and bent close to the water, as if to drink. Smothered under a swirl of cloudy mixtures, his reflection only spasmodically came into focus. Yet, among the bubbles, twigs, and jumbled particles of light and color, he saw it once more: a hair as white as the snow that a swan has flown over. It spiraled from his right temple.

Undirected—and unencumbered—by thought, King Alobar's hand shot out as if to ward off an enemy's blow. He yanked the hair from its mooring, examined it as one might examine a killed snake, and, after glancing over his shoulder to assure that none save Mik was his witness, flicked it into the spring, in whose waters it twisted and twirled for a long time before sinking out of sight.

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Average customer rating based on 10 comments:

Kate Keller, January 1, 2013 (view all comments by Kate Keller)
Great book all about beets.... and don't forget to put Descartes before the horse!
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(1 of 2 readers found this comment helpful)
Sophie Pattison, August 5, 2012 (view all comments by Sophie Pattison)
Whenever somebody asks me what my favorite book is I tell them Jitterbug Perfume. In actuality I probably don't have a favorite book, but I generally assume that when someone asks about your favorite book they are looking for something new and exciting to read, and Tom Robbins fulfills that requirement. Particularly in these hot summer days, Robbins hallucination inspired imagination is easily welcomed by my sweaty, confused brain. Robbins is not the most linear of writers, so if you're looking for a story with a beginning, middle and end this book is probably not for you. However, if you're looking for something with brilliant, hilarious writing that will take your mind on an adventure out of this hot, sweaty world and into another, this is the book for you.
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(2 of 3 readers found this comment helpful)
2chickadees, September 16, 2010 (view all comments by 2chickadees)
Long ago a copy of this book was passed around among friends, friends of friends, relatives, etc. By the time it got to me it was already in bad shape. When I saw it again, months later, it had coffee stains, pages falling out, underlining, and a torn cover -- all signs of a good journey for a book. Our inside jokes based on Jitterbug Perfume lasted for years...

One thing is for sure: if you read it, you will never think of beets the same way again.
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(7 of 13 readers found this comment helpful)
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780553348989
Author:
Robbins, Tom
Publisher:
Bantam Books
Author:
Robbins, Tom
Location:
New York :
Subject:
General
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Fiction
Subject:
Pilgrims and pilgrimages
Subject:
Fantasy fiction
Subject:
Perfumes industry
Subject:
Fables
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Copyright:
Edition Number:
Bantam trade ed.
Edition Description:
Bantam trade paperback reissue.
Series Volume:
88-734
Publication Date:
19900431
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Y
Pages:
352
Dimensions:
8.32x5.24x.77 in. .60 lbs.

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Related Subjects


Featured Titles » Staff Picks
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
History and Social Science » Pacific Northwest » Literature Folklore and Memoirs

Jitterbug Perfume Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$10.50 In Stock
Product details 352 pages Bantam Books - English 9780553348989 Reviews:
"Review" by , "Jitterbug Perfume has a large and exotic cast of characters, all of whom are interested in immortality and/or perfume....Go see for yourself; you'll have a good time."
"Review" by , "Robbins again celebrates the joy of individual expression and self-reliance. He lays before us the time honored warts and hairs of the worlds philosophies — problems with religion, war, politics, family, marriage and sex — and leaves no twist or turn unstoned."
"Synopsis" by , Jitterbug Perfume

is an epic.

Which is to say, it begins in the forests of ancient Bohemia and doesnt conclude until nine oclock tonight (Paris time).

It is a saga, as well. A saga must have a hero, and the hero of this one is a janitor with a missing bottle.

The bottle is blue, very, very old, and embossed with the image of a goat-horned god.

If the liquid in the bottle actually is the secret essence of the universe, as some folks seem to think, it had better be discovered soon because it is leaking and there is only a drop or two left.

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