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A Conversation on Arabie

A Package from Christos: Greek Sandals & Oud Cuir d'Arabie

A Package from Ines

A Package from Lavanya

A More Affordable Olfactionary

A Week of Wearing What I Like

Amouage Dia (pour femme)

Amouage Dia (pour homme)

Amouage Epic Woman

Amouage Gold

Amouage Interlude Man

Amouage Jubilation 25 

Amouage Lyric Woman

Amouage Memoir Woman

Amouage Opus I

Amouage Opus III

Amouage Opus IV

Amouage Opus V

Amouage Opus VI

Amouage Tribute

Amouage Ubar

Annick Goutal Ambre Fetiche

Annick Goutal Encens Flamboyant

Annick Goutal Heure Exquise

Annick Goutal Petite Cherie

Annick Goutal Sables

April Aromatics Calling All Angels

April Aromatics Bohemian Spice

April Aromatics Jasmina 

April Aromatics Nectar of Love

April Aromatics Rose L'Orange

Aroma M Geisha Green

Aroma M Geisha Rouge

Arquiste Anima Dulcis

Arquiste Boutonniere no. 7

At the Moment (Chanel 22 & Marshall Crenshaw)

At the Moment (Contemplating Change & Habit Rouge)

At the Moment (Marron Chic & Paris)

At the Moment (More Midsummer Delights/Epic/Geisha Noire)

At the Moment (Saki & Lubin Idole edt)

At the Moment (Secret de Suzanne /D'Orsay L'Intrigante)

At the Moment (Spring Pretties/Un Air de Samsara)

At the Moment (Summery Things...Love Coconut)

At the Moment (Vera Wang & Fireman's Fair novel)

Ava Luxe Café Noir

Beatnik Emptiness Incense

Best of 2009

Bond No. 9 Andy Warhol Silver Factory

Bond No. 9 Brooklyn

Bond No. 9 Little Italy

Bond No. 9 New Haarlem

Bottega Veneta eau de parfum

Breath of God

Byredo Green

By Kilian Amber Oud

By Kilian Forbidden Games and In the City of Sin

Calyx by Prescriptives

Canturi by Stefano Canturi

Capote, Truman & Evening in Paris

Carner Barcelona D600

Caron Aimez-Moi

Caron French Cancan

Caron Parfum Sacre

Caron Tabac Blond

Caron Tubereuse

Caron Yatagan

Cartier II L'Heure Convoitee

Cartier IV L'Heure Fougueuse

Chanel 31 Rue Cambon

Chanel Bel Respiro

Chanel Chance

Chanel Coco

Chanel Coromandel

Chanel Cuir de Russie

Chanel Egoiste

Chanel No. 5 (vintage)

Chanel No. 22

Chantecaille Petales

Chantilly Dusting Powder

Clive Christian C for Women

Comme des Garcons Daphne

Comme des Garcons LUXE Champaca

Comme des Garcons Series 7 Sweet Nomad Tea

Costes by Costes

Coty Ambre Antique

Coty Chypre

Coty Paris

Creature by Kerosene

Creed Acqua Fiorentina

Creed Fleurs de Bulgarie

Creed Virgin Island Water

DSH Perfumes Bancha Extreme

DSH Perfumes Quinacridone Violet 

DSH Perfumes Vert pour Madame

Deneuve

Devilscent Project

Dior Diorissimo (vintage)

Donna Karan Black Cashmere

EnVoyage Vents Ardents

EnVoyage Zelda

Estee Lauder Private Collection

Estee Lauder Private Collection Jasmine White Moss

Etat Libre d'Orange Rien, Rossy de Palma & Noel au Balcon

Faberge Woodhue Cologne

Favorite Fall Fragrances

Fendi Uomo

Fragrances for Sweden

Frapin 1697 Absolu Parfum

Frederic Malle Angeliques Sous La Pluie

Frederic Malle Bigarade Concentrée

Frederic Malle Carnal Flower

Frederic Malle Geranium Pour Monsieur

Frederic Malle Iris Poudre

Frederic Malle Le Parfum de Therese

Frederic Malle Lipstick Rose

Frederic Malle Noir Epices

Frederic Malle Portrait of a Lady

Frederic Malle Une Fleur de Cassie

Frederic Malle Une Rose

Geoffrey Beene Grey Flannel

Ghosts of Perfumes Past, Present & Future

Gone Fishin'

Gucci Eau de Parfum

Gucci L'Arte di Gucci

Gucci Pour Homme

Guerlain Aqua Allegoria Lys Soleia

Guerlain Aroma Allegoria Exaltant

Guerlain Attrape Coeur

Guerlain Chamade

Guerlain Jicky

Guerlain Mayotte

Guerlain Parure

Guerlain Samsara Parfum

Guerlain Un Air de Samsara

Guerlain Vega

Guerlain Vetiver (vintage)

Guy Laroche J'ai Ose (vintage)

Happy Solstice

Hermes 24, Faubourg

Hermes Caleche (vintage)

Hermes Eau des Merveilles

Hermes Hiris

Hermes Iris Ukiyoe

Hermes L'Ambre des Merveilles

Histoires de Parfums 1740

Histoires de Parfums 1828

Histoires de Parfums Blanc Violette

Histoires de Parfums Vert Pivoine

Hometown Portrait, State College, PA

Honore des Pres Vamp a NY

House of Matriarch Carmine

How I Store Decants

Il Profumo Cannabis

In Memory (w/mention of Lanvin Arpege)

Jacomo #02

Jacomo #09 (Link to my review in Sniffapalooza Magazine)

Jean Desprez Bal a Versailles

Jean Patou Joy

Jean Patou 1000

Jo Malone Saffron Cologne Intense

Jo Malone Sweet Milk Cologne 

Juliet by Juliet Stewart

Kai Eau de Parfum

Kenzo Jungle l’Elephant

Kenzo Summer

Lancome Magie Noire (vintage) 

Lanvin Via Lanvin (vintage) 

L'Artisan Parfumeur Nuit de Tubereuse

L'Artisan Parfumeur Orchidee Blanche 

L’Artisan Parfumeur Passage d’Enfer

L'Artisan Parfumeur Seville a l'Aube

L’Artisan Parfumeur Tea for Two

La Via del Profumo Balsamo Della Mecca

La Via del Profumo Hindu Kush

La Via del Profumo Milano Caffe

La Via del Profumo Oud Caravan Project

La Via del Profumo Sharif

La Via del Profumo Tawaf

Le Labo Gaiac 10

Le Labo Iris 39

Le Labo Patchouli 24

Le Labo Poivre 23

Little Lists

Lorenzo Villoresi Yerbamate

M. Micallef Vanille Orient

Maison Francis Kurkdjian Absolue Pour le Soir

Maison Martin Margiela (untitled) eau de parfum

Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier Eau des Iles

Message In A Bottle 

Michael Storer Winter Star

Miller Harris L'Air de Rien

Miscellany

Missoni (original) by Missoni

Molinard Habanita

Mona Di Orio Nuit Noire

Mona Di Orio Oud

Mona Di Orio Vanille

Montale Black Aoud

Montale Boise Vanille

Montale Intense Tiare

Montale Patchouli Leaves

Montale Red Aoud

More Roses (rose cookie recipe)

My Heart Has Skipped a Beat (summer smells)

My Perfumes Have Theme Songs

Nasomatto China White

Neila Vermeire Creations Bombay Bling

Nina Ricci L'Air du Temps

Nez a Nez Ambre a Sade

Northern Exposure "A Dash of Chanel No. 5"

Odin 04 Petrana (Link to my review in Sniffapalooza Magazine)

Olivier Durbano Black Tourmaline

Omar Sharif Pour Femme

Oriscent Pure Oud Oils

Ormonde Jayne Frangipani

Ormonde Jayne Ormonde Woman

Oscar de la Renta Oscar for Men

O Tannenbaum Joint Blog Project

Parfum d'Empire Azemour

Parfum d'Empire Cuir Ottoman

Parfum d'Empire Equistrius

Parfum d'Empire 3 Fleurs

Parfumerie Generale Bois de Copaiba

Parfumerie Generale Indochine

Parfumerie Generale Un Crime Exotique

Parfums de Nicolai Sacrebleu

Parfums DelRae Amoureuse

Parfums Karl Lagerfeld Sun Moon Stars

Parfums MDCI Chypre Palatin

Parfums Retro Grand Cuir

Paris, je t'aime

Pascal Morabito Or Black 

Perfume Quotes - The English Patient

Prada Infusion d'Iris Absolue

Pretty Perfume Bottles 

Prince Matchabelli Aviance Cologne (vintage) 

Profumum Roma Acqua Viva

Profumum Roma D'Ambrosia

Puredistance I

Puredistance Antonia

Puredistance BLACK

Puredistance M

Puredistance Opardu

Ramon Monegal Cherry Musk

Recipe for Socca

Regina Harris Amber Vanilla Perfume Oil

Regina Harris Frankincense-Myrrh-Rose Maroc Perfume Oil

Robert Piguet Fracas

Robert Piguet Visa

Rochas Mystere 

Rome Vacation Photos

San Francisco Holiday

Sarah Horowitz Parfums' Joy Comes From Within & Beauty Comes From Within

Scented Reading

Scents of the Mediterranean

Scentuous Reading: One Hundred Years of Solitude

Serge Lutens Arabie

Serge Lutens Borneo 1834

Serge Lutens Boxeuses

Serge Lutens Chêne

Serge Lutens Chergui

Serge Lutens Fille en Aiguilles

Serge Lutens Five O’Clock Au Gingembre

Serge Lutens Fumerie Turque

Serge Lutens Miel de Bois

Serge Lutens Muscs Koublai Khan

Serge Lutens Tubereuse Criminelle

Serge Lutens Un Lys

Serge Lutens Vetiver Oriental

Slumberhouse Rume

Snow Days

Sonoma Scent Studio Incense Pure

Sonoma Scent Studio Jour Ensoleille

Sonoma Scent Studio Voile de Violette

Sonoma Scent Studio Winter Woods (brief mention)

SoOud Ouris Parfum Nectar

S-Perfume 100% Love {More}

Stone Harbor, NJ Vacaton pix (non-perfume related)

Strange Invisible Perfumes Lyric Rain

Sweden Is For Lovers

T is for Taxes

Tauer Perfumes: Incense Extrême, Incense Rosé, Lonestar Memories, & Reverie au Jardin

Tauer Perfumes Vetiver Dance

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay

The Diary of a Nose, Book Review

The Different Company Jasmin de Nuit

The Intimacy of Scent

Thoughts of a Perfume Collector

Tightly

Tokyo Milk Ex Libris

Unlocking an Unknown: Webber Parfum 6T

Velvet & Sweet Pea's Purrfumery Bed of Roses

Venimus Vidimus Vicimus, or How 3 Perfume Bloggers and a Husband Took Rome

Vero Profumo Kiki, Onda, and Rubj

Vero Profumo Mito

Viktoria Minya Hedonist

Viktor & Rolfe Flowerbomb

What I’m Lovin’ Now

Xerjoff Mamluk

YOSH Perfumes Ginger Ciao

Yves Saint Laurent Nu

THE AMAZING ADVENTURES OF KAVALIER & CLAY


Recommended Reading for Scentophiles

 

A few years back, a writer friend recommended that I read Michael Chabon’s Pulitzer-prize winning novel, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, an epic, historical novel concerning two young men (cousins, both of them Jewish) whose fateful meeting in a tiny Brooklyn apartment in 1939, where they are forced to share a bed together upon Josef Kavalier’s sudden arrival in New York following his incredible escape from Nazi-invaded Czechoslovakia, leads them to become artistic bedfellows in America’s newest novelty and money-making enterprise—the comic book.


My friend had recommended the novel not only because she loved it, but because she thought it might be helpful to me since I was working on a novel, too, about Depression-era artists working in New York City in the 1930s under the Works Progress Administration; I had been trying to get a feel for the New York metropolis of that time period, its sights and sounds.  Perhaps if I had taken her advice I would be sitting pretty with a completed novel under my belt rather than one abandoned somewhere near the hundred-page mark; unfortunately, I often seem to be hell-bent on ignoring the wise counsel of the cherished few people who have my best interests at heart.  I heard the words “comic books” and was turned off, although I’m not sure why, considering I had read a number of Archie comics as a kid (and can recall being particularly infatuated with the advertisements that littered the back of them—particularly the ones for Sea Monkeys, which only fear of my mother’s certain disapproval as a “waste of good money” kept me from ordering).  Mostly, though, I associated comic books as being the domain of strange pale-faced boys who kept stacks of them in their messy bedrooms, and I quickly dismissed this novel as a resource or, as I only now understand it to be, a profound source of inspiration.


Synchronicity—and perfume blogging—must be credited for finally uniting me with Chabon’s astonishing masterpiece.  A couple months ago, in correspondence with a lovely woman who reads my perfume journal, I learned she was the daughter of Joe Simon, co-creator, along with his partner, Jack Kirby, of the famous Captain America comics hero of the 1940s.  These two men, as well as a number of other comics book artists and writers (Jerry Siegel, Joseph Shuster, Will Eisner, Jim Steranko, and others), informed and inspired Chabon’s creation of his Kavalier and Clay characters.  Not long after learning of this connection, I was participating in a web poll at Perfume-Smellin’ Things, where blog-mistress Marina was asking everyone what books they were reading, and The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay got a couple mentions.  I took these coincidences as a sign, as if they were the second and third taps on the door of my consciousness—Spirit telling me I’d better read this book—so I did, of course.  But what I could not have expected, and the reason I am writing about all of this here, is that Chabon’s book is not only monumental in its story-telling, acutely moving in its accounts of love, loss and the kind of incomprehensible devastation that alters life courses in surreal ways, and dazzling from a purely linguistic standpoint, too—it is chock-full of olfactory descriptions to a degree I’ve not come across in writing anywhere before.   (Or at least not in writing that isn’t directly tied to the subject of perfume.)


Scent lovers, I highly urge you to read this book.  Chabon’s writing is incredibly detailed and sensual (reading his prose is like eating the most dense and delicious of nougatines that miraculously never weigh down the story, but are digested as easily as if they were an airy meringue), and he draws on the olfactory sense so fully, naturally and often that I can easily believe he is a scentophile both on and off the page.  Very early in the book—as early as page five in the first chapter—there are two fabulous olfactive descriptions on the same page, the first dealing with Ethel Klayman, the mother of Sammy Clay:

 

She had just come home from her last night on a two-week graveyard rotation at Bellevue, where she worked as a psychiatric nurse.  The stale breath of the hospital was on her, but the open throat of her uniform gave off a faint whiff of the lavender water in which she bathed her tiny frame.  The natural fragrance of her body was a spicy, angry smell like that of fresh pencil shavings.


And farther down on the page, an account from Sammy’s point-of-view of meeting his Czechoslovakian cousin, Josef Kavalier, who has just arrived to the Klaymans’ flat in Brooklyn, where Sammy is forced to share his bed with him just minutes after meeting him:
           

His jacket buttons clicked against the back of a chair; his trousers rustled as he stepped out of them; he let fall one shoe, then the other.  His wristwatch chimed against the water glass on the nightstand.  Then he and a gust of chilly air got in under the covers, bearing with them an odor of cigarette, armpit, damp wool, and something sweet and somehow nostalgic that Sammy presently identified as the smell, on his cousin’s breath, of prunes from the leftover ingot of his mother’s “special” meatloaf—prunes were only a small part of what made it so very special—which he had seen her wrap like a parcel in a sheet of wax paper and set on a plate in the Frigidaire.  So she had known that her nephew would be arriving tonight, had even been expecting him for supper, and had said nothing about it to Sammy.


Perfume is mentioned in various places throughout the book, but my favorite reference comes from a scene where Josef Kavalier is remembering the events leading up to his daring escape from Prague, in which his former magic teacher—a retired stage illusionist named Kornblum—plays an instrumental role.  This passage recalls an unexpected night in which the two of them are sheltered by a group of prostitutes.  After an account of the heartbreaking goodbyes between Josef and his family, this scene strikes me as particularly tender and poignant:

Early the next morning, Josef and Kornblum met in the kitchen of Apartment 42.  Here they were served coffee in scalloped Herend cups by Trudi, the youngest of the three prostitutes.  She was an ample girl, plain and intelligent, studying to be a nurse.  After relieving Josef of the burden of his innocence the previous night, in a procedure that required less time than it now took her to brew a pot of coffee, Trudi had pulled on her cherry-pink kimono and gone out to the parlor to study a text on phlebotomy, leaving Josef to the warmth of her goose-down counterpane, the lilac smell of her nape and cheek lingering on the cold pillow, the perfumed darkness of her bedroom, the shame of his contentment. 

Chabon provides scented descriptions of the things we consider mundane—cotton pajamas, an office chair, Lifebuoy soap, comic books—as well as those we might label either sacred or profane: male parts, female parts, sex.  As you can tell, I loved all of the descriptions, but the book is so powerful that even if they hadn’t been included, this would still be an amazing read.  I’ll leave you with one last quote (it does reference a “female part” with a word some might consider lewd, so be forewarned.  It’s a beautiful quote, and I believe my readers are sophisticated enough so as not to be offended, but if I’m wrong, then I apologize).  In this passage, Josef Kavalier is recalling the woman he is still in love with, though intense grief has caused him to estrange himself from her: 

Sammy had once told him about the capsule that had been buried at the World’s Fair, in which typical items of that time and place—some nylon stockings, a copy of Gone with the Wind, a Mickey Mouse drinking cup—had been buried in the ground, to be recovered and marveled at by the people of some future gleaming New York.  Now, as he read through these thousands of words that Rosa had written to him, and her raspy, plaintive voice sounded in his ear, his entombed memories of Rosa were hauled up as from a deep shaft within him.  The lock on the capsule was breached, the hasps were thrown, the hatch opened, and with a ghostly whiff of lily of the valley and a fluttering of moths, he remembered—he allowed himself to enjoy a final time—the stickiness and weight of her thigh thrown over his belly in the middle of a hot August night, her breath against the top of his head and the pressure of her breast against his shoulder as she gave his hair a trim in the kitchen of his apartment on Fifth Avenue, the burble and glint of the Trout Quintet playing in the background as the smell of her cunt, rich and faintly smoky like cork, perfumed an idle hour in her father’s house.  He recalled the sweet illusion of hope that his love for her had brought him.

 

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, copyright © 2000 by Michael Chabon (Picador, a division of St. Martin’s Press, New York, 2000, pp. 5-6, 47, 457-458)

Posted by Suzanne Keller, 5/16/2008.


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A Perfume Blog (Blacknall Allen)

Another Perfume Blog (Natalie)


Ars Aromatica

Australian Perfume Junkies

Beauty on the Outside
 

Bloody Frida

Bois de Jasmin

Bonkers About Perfume

Ca Fleure Bon

ChickenFreak's Obsessions

EauMG

Eyeliner on a Cat

Fragrance Bouquet

From Top to Bottom - Perfume Patter

Giovanni Sammarco (artisanal perfumer) blog

Grain de Musc

I Smell Therefore I Am

Kafkaesque

Katie Puckrik Smells

Memory of Scent

Muse in Wooden Shoes 

Nathan Branch

Natural Perfumery by Salaam

Notes on Shoes, Cake & Perfume

Notes From Josephine

Notes From the Ledge

Now Smell This

Oh, True Apothecary! 

Olfactarama 

Olfactoria's Travels 

Parfumistans blogg

PereDePierre 

Perfume Posse

Perfume Shrine

Perfume-Smellin' Things

Purple Paper Planes

Redolent of Spices

Riktig Parfym: Ramblings of a Fragrant Fanatic

Scented Salamander

Scents of Place

Scents of Self

Smelly Blog

Sorcery of Scent 

Sweet Diva

The Alembicated Genie 

The Candy Perfume Boy 

The Fragrant Man

The French Exit


The Non-Blonde 

The Perfume Magpie

The Scented Hound
 

The Sounds of Scent

The Vintage Perfume Vault
 

This Blog Really Stinks 

Undina's Looking Glass 

WAFT by Carol 

Yesterday's Perfume

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