Perfume & pain A novel

Anna Dorn

Book - 2024

Having recently moved both herself and her formidable perfume bottle collection into a tiny bungalow in Los Angeles, mid-list author Astrid Dahl finds herself back in the Zoom writer's group she cofounded, Sapphic Scribes, after an incident that leaves her and her career lightly canceled. But she temporarily forgets all that by throwing herself into a few sexy distractions, like Ivy, a grad student researching 1950s lesbian pulp who smells like metallic orchids, or her new neighbor, Penelope, who smells like patchouli. Penelope, a painter living off Urban Outfitters settlement money, immediately ingratiates herself in Astrid's life, bonding with her best friends and family, just as Astrid and Ivy begin to date in person. Astrid fe...els judged and threatened by Penelope, a responsible older vegan, but also finds her irresistibly sexy. When Astrid receives an unexpected call from her agent with the news that actress and influencer Kat Gold wants to adapt her previous novel for TV, Astrid finally has a chance to resurrect her waning career. But the pressure causes Astrid's worst vice to rear its head, the Patricia Highsmith, a blend of Adderall, alcohol, and cigarettes, and results in blackouts and a disturbing series of events.

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Location Call Number   Status
1st Floor New Shelf FICTION/Dorn Anna (NEW SHELF) Due Jul 5, 2024
Queer fiction
New York : Simon & Schuster Paperbacks 2024.
Main Author
Anna Dorn (author)
First Simon & Schuster trade paperback edition
Physical Description
340 pages ; 22 cm
Contents unavailable.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

In the rollicking latest from Dorn (Exalted), a writer gets canceled after calling herself a "female faggot" during an event at a West Hollywood bookstore. Disgraced by her public shaming, Astrid Dahl returns to her writing group, Sapphic Scribes, in search of inspiration and support. While her agent anxiously awaits her next manuscript, Astrid exchanges flirty messages with her crush Ivy, discovers an attraction to her nosy older neighbor, Penelope, and receives endless affection from the gorgeous Kat Gold, a movie star who "preys on tragic dykes all the time." These new prospects prompt Astrid to try and kick her addiction to what she calls the "Patricia Highsmith," a simultaneous bingeing of Adderall, booze, cigarettes, and sativa; and to break away from the "deranged" Sapphic Scribes. When Ivy reveals her jealous side after discovering that Astrid might have feelings for Penelope, she puts the gritty details of their text message exchange online and Astrid must live in fear of her image getting tarnished once again. Drawing inspiration from the eccentricities of the internet (on finding her agent, Astrid writes: "I sent her my gay Kendall Jenner fanfic, and the rest is history"), Dorn keeps her finger squarely on the pulse. This brash novel pushes the envelope in all the best ways. Agent: Sarah Phair, Sanford J. Greenburger Assoc. (May)

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Review by Kirkus Book Review

Astrid Dahl, a midlist author obsessed with both her expansive perfume collection and her new Los Angeles neighbor, finds herself struggling to stay sober and avoid becoming wrapped up in yet another toxic relationship. When readers are first introduced to Astrid--who is just about as abrasive and scathing as a character can be--things are not going well. She's struggling with an on-again, off-again addiction to a combination of recreational drugs and alcohol that she calls the Patricia Highsmith, her career as a writer is on the verge of falling apart after a disastrous event at a Barnes & Noble, and her love life has largely been unsuccessful (due in no small part to Astrid's attraction to drama). All that begins to change, however, when Astrid finds herself torn between Ivy, a secretive and seductive Ph.D. student who's in her online writing group, the Sapphic Scribes, and Penelope, a self-confident older artist who conveniently lives in the bungalow next to Astrid's. While she is initially apprehensive of Penelope and the smell of patchouli that clings to her, as they spend more time together, Astrid's attraction grows to the point of obsession, mirroring Ivy's obsession with Astrid. The book swiftly takes on a lurid, fever dream--like quality as Astrid's Patricia Highsmith--induced blackouts happen with increasing frequency and produce unsettling results. Dorn's book, whose title is taken from a popular work of lesbian pulp fiction written by Kimberley Kemp (aka Gilbert Fox) in the 1960s, is acerbic, steamy, and compulsively readable--fans of ribald, satirical humor (with a specific focus on celebrity melodrama and LGBTQ+ culture) will read it in one go. It's this author's best work yet. A Sapphic roller-coaster ride and pitch-perfect homage to lesbian pulp fiction. Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.