the_author() rating onrating onrating onrating onrating on

THE SMELL COLLECTOR

Ha ha – Something Special

By Fiona Gregory, editor

Jan 18, 2014: Jim has a hobby, and he’s very good at it. But sometimes it leads to problems.

"I have been banned from the shoe and boot repair shop. The owner, a Mr. Young-soo Kim, objected to my close range sniff of his person (ginger, garlic, and leather). His words were “You no sniff around here no more. I break your nose!” It’s difficult for me to understand humor, but I think that perhaps he was being jovial with me. I’ll come back later this week to find out."

Although the story doesn’t overtly say so, I’m pretty sure Jim has Asperger’s Syndrome. Because he’s been dedicated to his passion for analyzing the components of scents of people, places, and events since childhood, he has an amazing ability to pick them out like a trained musician might pick out notes in a symphony. When he’s not discreet enough in his research on the smell profiles of random strangers, though, like Marie in the library, she doesn’t understand that it’s all for science and reacts as you might expect.

However, Marie has issues of her own, and though their first interaction is inauspicious, it turns out that Jim and Marie each hold the key to something very important to the other.

This is a fairly simple story, yet it manages to be funny, original, and ultimately, beautiful. It could easily have gone wrong by being too silly, or getting maudlin, or losing our sympathy for its oddball characters, but instead it hits all the right notes. It’s not often a story makes me smile and giggle, and also makes me cry.

At the very least, after reading this story you’ll never think of smells the same way. Except for a few favoured scents of flowers and maybe cookies baking, people tend to think of smells as a bad thing, to avoid. But for most other animals, it’s the primary sense with which to know the world. The Smell Collector is on to something.

3 of 3 members found this review helpful.
Help us improve!  Request an invite or log in to rate this review.