In the library bag…

A couple of interesting items are heading back to the library this morning.

The first is Heritage:  A Romantic Look at Early Canadian Furniture, by Scott Symons (Photographs by John de Visser).   Symons died last month and I read a couple of obituaries of this interesting man:  David Warren’s sympathetic piece, and the obit in the Globe and Mail by Sandra Martin.  Both pieces sent me to the TPL website to request a copy of some of his writing.

This book is a series of photographs of furniture from Ontario eastward.  The text is marvellous, almost stream-of-consciousness.   Of a chandelier in Chateau Ramezay (Montreal) he begins:

Floating you head-turvy, about five feet up — multiple antennae.  Rotor.  Deep green and gold.  U.F.O.

An Unidentified Flying Object, this chandelier that is anything but crystal.  Because crystal, with its glittering translucency, has some right to float.  But this chandelier, with its solid mass of carved wood painted such deep green it feels black — this massive chandelier has no right to float.  But float it does…at once substantial and at the same time lighter than air.  Inexplicable.

And once you accept its presence it has become (again inexplicable) the centre of the room, with all other object suspended from it.  As though it were the sun and the other pieces of furniture in full-bodied orbit around it whorling…

Simply breathtaking writing!

The second quite thrilling book is Perfumes


 by Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez.  I had read about this somewhere, and popped it onto my hold list at the library, one of hundreds of people interested in getting a copy.   Once again, the writing is terrific.  The authors opine on perfume criticism as an art, different categories of perfumes and the blend of science and art used in their creation, and then get down to the business of classifying and rating perfumes.  Some top ten lists round out the book.

I’m not really a big perfume connaisseur, although I definitely connect certain scents to certain times in my life.  Z is quite opinionated about scent, has a couple of signature ones that he wears regularly, and was pleased to read of the book’s high opinions of some of his favourites (Dior’s Eau Sauvage made a Top Ten list, Habit Rouge by Guerlain had the highest (5 star) rating, as did Azzaro Pour Homme).  

Here’s a example of the entry for Azzaro Pour Homme, written by Luca Turin:

The monotheists among us believe that there is only one proper genre of masculine fragrance, the fougere, and that its apex was reached with the aromatic fougeres of the late 1970s.  Some, I among them, believe that the finest aromatic ever was Azzaro Pour Homme (1978).  You can tell it was a perfume for smart guys:  the slogan “Un parfum pour les hommes qui aiment les femmes qui aiment les hommes” is not for the slow-witted.  I wore it today for the first time in twenty years, and it felt just as it always did:  affable, slightly vulgar, completely unpretentious, and overall just delicious.  This fragrance is so good and historically so important that I have met to date six perfumers who claim to have composed it (Gerard Anthony is officially credited), which puts it in the same league as Giorgio and a few others for multiple attribution.  Azzaro’s other fragrances have mostly been disappointments, but all is forgiven.  Just keep making this one. 

One of my faves from my early adulthood was Cacharel’s Anais Anais.  Here’s a snippet of Mr. Turin’s comments on that one:

…The idea was girls in quantity, a sort of harem steam bath spruced up to seventies health-and-safety standards.  Hence the double name, the groups of indistinguishable pretty, pale blondes in the photos, the bathroomy porcelain bottle. Taken together, the image was designed to appeal both to a vaguely dykey camaraderie and to the voyeur instincts of the opposite sex. … The fragrance was devoid of all attempts at seductive warmth, and was instead bright, slightly chrysanthemum-bitter, squeaky clean, soapy, and utterly memorable….

Well now!

This is a book that I’d like to own, not so much because I’m planning to invest in a lot of scent, or need their “approval” for my choices, but simply because it’s so entertaining and informative.

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