Patrick Suskind was born in 1949. He studied history in Munich and was a writer for television before he wrote Perfume. His second novel, The Pidgeon, later adapted as a play, was first staged at teh BAC Theater in London in May 1993. His play The Double Bass was first staged in Munich in 1981 and has since become one of the most performed plays in Germany, Switzerland and Austria. It has also been performed at the Edinburgh Festival and at the Royal National Theatre in London. His novella The Story of Mr Sommer (1992) has, like Perfume, been a huge success all over the world, and his Three Stories and a Reflection was published in 1996. Patrick Suskind lives in Munich.
Suskind's previous novel, Perfume, was a tough act to follow, so perhaps he deliberately curbed his aspirations for its successor. Where Perfume was a rich feast of language and vision, this slim novella is a light snack, a simple fable simply wrought. After a childhood marked by repeated abandonment, followed by years devoted to cultivating the lifestyle of an urban hermit, Parisian bank guard Jonathan Noel awakes one morning to find the titular bird outside the door of his rented one-room flat, the presence of which so unnerves him over the course of the day, that he finally goes to sleep vowing to commit suicide the next morning. Redemption comes at daybreak in the form of a rainstorm and the realization that, despite the sadness of his early years, he ``cannot live without other people.'' Like the monster scent-stealer of Perfume, Noel is an extreme example of a social outcast, but despite a few nice toucheshe recognizes his first rush of adrenaline as something he has read abouthis characterization lacks the inventiveness of the former. The verbal flights of fancy that dazzled in Perfume are missing here, although that book's less interesting allegorical affinities remain. Readers with high hopes for The Pigeon will be disappointed; those who approach the book with limited expectations will be better suited to appreciate its modest rewards. 35,000 first printing; paperback rights to Pocket Books; BOMC and QPBC alternates. (May)
$14.95. f In Perfume ( LJ 10/15/86), his internationally acclaimed first novel, Suskind explores the obsessive inner world of a monster genius. In his new novella he paints a humorous if disquieting portrait of an ordinary man who is nevertheless as obsessive as Suskind's first protagonist. Jonathan Noel is a bank guard in Paris. Deeply traumatized by his childhood experiences during the German occupation of France, he strives with singular dedication to reduce his life to utter uneventfulness and monotony. The sudden appearance of a pigeon on his doorstep completely unhinges him, threatening to plunge his life into chaos. A fine translation of a masterfully crafted novella, essential for literature collections. Ulrike S. Rettig, Wellesley Coll., Wellesley, Mass.