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  1. #1

    Default Interesting review of Luca Turin's book

    This is the copy of a review from Amazon by Claudia Summer, it is worth reading:

    Five stars for the writing. I cannot remember a book that gave me more pleasure. It's a great read, rich with fascinating details about scents I've never tried. I'm not a perfumista, don't read the myriad perfume blogs, and frankly, don't even know why I like the perfumes I like. Besides reading this book for fun - especially the hilarious one-star reviews -- I'm using it to learn. It's a road map to hundreds of perfumes to try. I spray those little sniff strips, later seal each in a plastic snack bag so I can re-evaluate it for days and attempt to understand the experts' points of view. Then I sleep with one strip on my pillow for one night, hoping for wonderful dreams. Aromatics Elixir produced technicolor giggles. Had I not read this book, I would never have looked to Clinique for a fabulous perfume. Another discovery is good ole (manly) Stetson, described here as "a crisp classical feminine oriental...gorgeous, as rugged and masculine as the lingerie level at Saks..." Who knew? I'm now using this wonderful el cheapo as air spray in my musty book lined office.

    I've admired Luca since stumbling upon Chandler Burr's The Emperor of Scent at the library (and still like vibrations better than molecules), then read his Secrets of Scent, at least the civilian-friendly first half, and ordered my Amazon copy of this guidebook months ago. Who wouldn't gravitate toward a scientist who, as Burr reported, was scrambling for a Nobel Prize on one hand and on the other describing an iconic perfume as something that should be hanging in a Moscow taxi.

    Luca has major creds, but who is this Tanya person? She won me over on page 12, describing how people get interested in perfume. For me, it's the Tabu factor: Mumsy always wore it and from my earliest days I thought the world smelled of (the old) Tabu, Lucky Strikes, martinis and snowflake-sprinkled fur. And then of the wonderful old greasy green Replique, Joy, Zizanie and Ma Griffe my father brought home from Paris and my first purchase, Jolie Madame. What was not to love? I appropriated the Replique and wore it to grade school and on into adulthood, miss it still, and have no idea what it was I loved about it. As Tanya said, all perfume lovers have long, fond memories. It's sad that so many older perfumes have been discontinued or reformulated beyond recognition and I agree with an earlier reviewer that critiques of some discontinued classics would have been welcome.

    I may not understand the structure of perfume, but I do know about the structure of books. This is reasonably good but another few months of work might have produced a masterpiece. I wish the publisher's production people had thought harder about a few things: First, the white cover may be striking but it's impractical for a book designed to be schlepped back and forth to the store. Ditto the page size. I'd prefer a wider page with room to make notes. Actually, a trade paperback with a binding that lies flat would have been ideal. The 12-page star index is jammed and nearly unreadable. I miss having a real index. Eliminating some inconsequential perfumes that garnered only a one-sentence critique would have freed up space for an index, an opportunity to list by type, by company, and by designer.

    But that's technical stuff. I love this book enough to give it five stars anyway.. It contributes color, wit, and delight to an increasingly unrecognizable world where control freaks nail "fragrance free zone" signs on far too many doors and wearing perfume is considered as undesirable as smoking. In my city, anyway. Thanks to this book, perfume sales surely will increase.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Interesting review of Luca Turin's book

    "- especially the hilarious one-star reviews -- I'm using it to learn"

    unfortunately, the amusing one star reviews are the worst feature of the book, in my opinion - in most cases they don't even describe the scent properly. The sad part is that here is a reviewer who gives them credence because she's so taken by the rest of the book.
    Renato

  3. #3

    Default Re: Interesting review of Luca Turin's book

    Wow, someone really loves this book. I thought it was average at best. I find the basenotes directory reviews more enjoyable to read.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Interesting review of Luca Turin's book

    So I hear a lot of people saying around here that Turin's book is akin to a "bible" in perfumery, wherein an equal amount seem to shrug it off and say "Basenotes is better guide!"

    So is, Basenotes, indeed the place to be when getting into this whole "scent" thing? Or is Turin's book of some great value...
    Doctor, doctor...what is wrong with me...?

  5. #5

    Default Re: Interesting review of Luca Turin's book

    Turin's book is of great value - Mr. Turin is obviously very knowledgeable about scents and he's got some great things to say. Also the book is very entertaining and a very good read.

    However, I tend to consult the message boards/directory more often; partly because their are some great reviews, great advice, and it's always good to get more than one persons opinion.
    A

    * * * * * * * *
    Newbie discovering the wonderful world of perfume

    * * * * * * * *

    Looking for; http://community.basenotes.net/showthread.php?t=210771
    and
    http://community.basenotes.net/showthread.php?t=214089

  6. #6

    Default Re: Interesting review of Luca Turin's book

    Turin/Sanchez's book is definitely useful and pleasurable reading. He's funny, they're both interestingly opinionated, both have enormous experience and knowledge. But to me buying perfume is not like buying a car, in that what I'll ultimately be moved by in the perfume is not achieved by any merely technical feat of skill. It has everything to do with associations, experience, ways in which we are as different as we are alike. So perfume writing is more like literary criticism than like Consumer Reports. The idea of one essential and sufficient guide is misplaced. But the truth is that no one around here really thinks that way anyway. People here are on the quest, always learning, passionate but also open. Which is why I hang around so much. But, yeah, Turin and Sanchez are really really good. And no, I don't always agree with them or even recognize the same notes they do. Especially the way they designate a frag in the two word blurbs, often seems weird to me. The introductory material is also disappointing if you've already read a lot about perfumery, but it's clearly written for a newbie audience. Read it! Won't hurt you none, and it'll goad and inspire and titillate you in fun and useful ways.
    I also want to address the occasional peevishness around here about Turin and Burr getting all this ink when there are a dozen Basenoters who write as well. Totally understandable, a just and intelligent response. But from the perspective of producing more good perfume and good writing about perfume? Not worth the bulging neck veins. Getting good stuff into print will help get other, perhaps better, stuff into print. Can you imagine objecting to the publication of a novel that was merely good because you're afraid that your excellent novel therefore won't get published? Well, yeah, of course, but it's also nuts. Because people don't buy just one; they either buy them or they don't.
    Last edited by Strollyourlobster; 12th July 2008 at 01:53 PM.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Interesting review of Luca Turin's book

    Quote Originally Posted by Strollyourlobster View Post
    Turin/Sanchez's book is definitely useful and pleasurable reading. He's funny, they're both interestingly opinionated, both have enormous experience and knowledge. But to me buying perfume is not like buying a car, in that what I'll ultimately be moved by in the perfume is not achieved by any merely technical feat of skill. It has everything to do with associations, experience, ways in which we are as different as we are alike. So perfume writing is more like literary criticism than like Consumer Reports. The idea of one essential and sufficient guide is misplaced. But the truth is that no one around here really thinks that way anyway. People here are on the quest, always learning, passionate but also open. Which is why I hang around so much. But, yeah, Turin and Sanchez are really really good. And no, I don't always agree with them or even recognize the same notes they do. Especially the way they designate a frag in the two word blurbs, often seems weird to me. Read it! Won't hurt you none.
    Very Well stated. I agree.
    The concern of Turin and Sanchez having their feelings hurt because of comments on basenotes is silly to me. They both know what they are doing, and although they know fragrance and the science behind it, they are making a living as well. Somehow I think they have a giggle and a smile at what they stir up, and that is exactly how they planned it.

  8. #8

    Talking Re: Interesting review of Luca Turin's book

    Here's the thing. With Turin and Sanchez, at least you can establish a reliable baseline of your tastes in relation to theirs, if that makes any sense. Certain music critics I have found that I consistently disagree with. If they trash a song, I'll give it a listen because chances are I might like it. The same goes for certain film and book critics.

    On the whole I've found "Perfumes: The Guide" to be a delightful way to get my bearings in a vast and confusing range of products that are notoriously poorly explained by their creators and marketers. If you're lost in a thick jungle, a boldly drawn map with big broad outlines is better than nothing at all.

    I do agree with Claudia Summer that some further editing would have helped. (If I had to read the phrase "like a sucked silver spoon" one more time...) But on the whole I thought the book was hilariously good fun and some of my personal favorites took a real beating, but I take it in stride and understand that there's absolutely, in the end, no accounting for taste.

  9. #9

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    Default Re: Interesting review of Luca Turin's book

    The Basenotes fragrance directory is the real "holy grail" of the fragrance industry for it represents the real world experience of people who wear the scents on a daily basis. "Perfumes: The Guide" merely expresses the opinion of a group of troublemakers in lab coats and is of little significance outside of the laboratory or classroom.
    Last edited by samplermike; 12th July 2008 at 03:44 PM.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Interesting review of Luca Turin's book

    Quote Originally Posted by samplermike View Post
    The Basenotes fragrance directory is the real "holy grail" of the fragrance industry for it represents the real world experience of people who wear the scents on a daily basis.


    Beautifully put. We may not agree on Creed, but we do on this.
    In a world where people smell bad, it is the personal responsibility of every Basenoter to improve the world one SotD at a time...

  11. #11

    Default Re: Interesting review of Luca Turin's book

    Quote Originally Posted by samplermike View Post
    The Basenotes fragrance directory is the real "holy grail" of the fragrance industry for it represents the real world experience of people who wear the scents on a daily basis.
    While it does include the opinions of people who are very familiar with the fragrances they review, it also includes the opinions of people who have only sampled it once or twice and people who have never even worn the fragrance, but just sprayed it on and wrote down what they imagine they smelled along with an opinion (which is pretty worthless). I think people should be encouraged to divulge exactly how much experience they've had with a fragrance as part of their review.
    Last edited by aeromatic; 12th July 2008 at 06:20 PM.

  12. #12

    Default Re: Interesting review of Luca Turin's book

    At first, I had a hard time keeping my ego in check when reading The Guide, but it has become a constant companion for me. I keep it close at hand and actually take it with me when I'm traveling. I may not agree 100% with all of the reviews, but it certainly makes this whole perfumery endeavor I've subjected myself to, much easier to organize. It probably helps that I am sympathetic to Sanchez and Turin's general rules: Guerlain is the top house, almost all Carons have been rendered unrecognizable and that Creed, as a perfume house, is wildly inconsistent and pretentious.
    That said, I'm still at a loss by the praise heaped on Estee Lauder's Beyond Paradise; masculine or feminine. A ground breaking fragrance? To me, they have more in common with science fiction than with the fine art of perfumery.
    Last edited by Kevin Guyer; 13th July 2008 at 12:29 AM.

  13. #13

    Default Re: Interesting review of Luca Turin's book

    There are many other interesting and informative (as well as funny) reviews of "The Guide" over at amazon (59 last time I looked, in total). This book reminds me of a few professors I studied under, in that they had a lot of useful knowledge or insight to impart, but they tended to go off on tangents, repeat themselves, and some were unable to see the flaws in their way of thinking. And so, if you can sort through the problematic material, what you have are a bunch of "nuggets of wisdom" that are very helpful. So stick with it, don't get caught up on the stuff that clearly could be improved, but also don't assume that the authors are "right" all the time. You may never develop the same olfactory sensibility that either of the authors appear to have.

  14. #14

    Default Re: Interesting review of Luca Turin's book

    Quote Originally Posted by samplermike View Post
    "Perfumes: The Guide" merely expresses the opinion of a group of troublemakers in lab coats
    LT might well be a basenoter, LT might not have a lab coat, even might wear scents on a daily basis. You don't know, just one thing, but that one you know dead sure: he is a troublemaker. Nicely put.

  15. #15

    Default Re: Interesting review of Luca Turin's book

    Quote Originally Posted by Renato View Post
    "- especially the hilarious one-star reviews -- I'm using it to learn"

    unfortunately, the amusing one star reviews are the worst feature of the book, in my opinion - in most cases they don't even describe the scent properly. The sad part is that here is a reviewer who gives them credence because she's so taken by the rest of the book.
    Renato

    That's the point of one star. Not to waste ink and paper on them. They're not worth talking about.

  16. #16

    Default Re: Interesting review of Luca Turin's book

    Quote Originally Posted by thebeck View Post
    That's the point of one star. Not to waste ink and paper on them. They're not worth talking about.
    So arrogant. To give the lowest rank possible and then throw it in your face with one sentence explanation.Brilliant! Take something so sophisticated as olfactory interpretation and render it to no explanation; just one's divine opinion? I am glad I didn't buy the book, my own nose works just fine, and unless Luca is sleeping in my bed or paying my bills, his and Tanya's opinions are just that and nothing more.

    Follow YOUR nose...

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