Perfume: The Story of a Murderer // Six Degrees of Separation

The idea behind this exercise is to connect books in any way that’s meaningful to use, from the profound to the inane. Although Kevin Bacon is typically behind the six degrees came, books are just a bit more fun.Six Degrees PerfumeSo for a while, books and music were totally my thing. They still are, but feature less prominently on my languishing blog.  BUT.

And that is an excited and important but! This month’s six degrees of separation begins with Perfume: The Story of a Murderer by Patrick Süskind. Why am I so excited? Because this book was one of Kurt Cobain’s favorites and inspired “Scentless Apprentice” from In Utero. In case you’ve missed my billion references to the ‘90s, grunge, flannel, Daria, and Jordan Catalano, I love Nirvana and that particular decade. Fiercely.

Similarly, rumor has it (popular, chart topping music pun for you) that Bob Dylan’s All Along the Watchtower was inspired by Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. While Dylan may have drawn inspiration from the gothic classic, Stephen King drew inspiration from a Dylan classic when he named his supernatural novel From a Buick 8 (referencing From a Buick 6).

Another novel I recently read that was chock-full of music references, including the title, is Only Love Can Break Your Heart by Ed Tarkington (a Neil Young reference, for those who like their music a little more modern). A coming of age novel that’s part southern gothic and part mystery, Tarkington’s debut has been flying under the radar, but I promise you it is very good.

While love can break a heart, a heart is also a lonely hunter. At least according to her Carson McCuller’s aptly titled The Heart is a Lonely Hunter.  Also a debut, it’s a remarkable novel filled with a yearning to escape small town life and incredible compassion and irony.

My favorite writer of small town heroes (of a sort) is Richard Russo. One of his funniest novels, Straight Man, features reluctant English department chairman Henry Devereaux Jr. His reluctance is partly rooted in his character–he is a born anarchist– and partly in the fact that his department is more savagely divided than the Balkans. While Russo’s novel might be my favorite campus novel, another close contender – and my final link in the chain – is Chad Harbach’s The Art of Fielding, which is set on a small campus on the shore of Lake Michigan, where a baseball star seems destined for the big leagues, until…

From Kurt Cobain to Bob Dylan to Stephen King to baseball, I think I’ve finally achieved my perfect six degrees chain. Visit Books Are My Favourite and Best to join in, and the rules are listed here. What would your chain look like?

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