- Hardcover: 256 pages
- Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; First Printing edition (June 16, 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0618861882
- ISBN-13: 978-0618861880
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 34 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #513,328 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Remembering Smell: A Memoir of Losing--and Discovering--the Primal Sense Hardcover – June 16, 2010
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In November 2005, Bonnie Blodgett was whacked with a nasty cold. After a quick shot of a popular nasal spray up each nostril, the back of her nose was on fire. With that, Blodgett--a professional garden writer devoted to the sensual pleasures of garden and kitchen--was launched on a journey through the senses, the psyche, and the sciences. Her olfactory nerve was destroyed, perhaps forever. She had lost her sense of smell.
A Q&A with Bonnie Blodgett, Author of Remembering Smell
(Photo © Ann Marsden)
From Publishers Weekly
Minnesota garden writer Blodgett (The Garden Letter) lost her sense of smell after using Zicam nasal spray for her cold and had to relearn the central role of smell in the entire makeup of her life. In this thoughtful, informative work, she delves with a laymanÖs tenacity into the complicated science of smell, its role in evolution, memory, and survival, and how the deprivation affected her own life with her longtime husband, Cam, and two grown daughters. Before the full-fledged anosmia (loss of smell) set in, however, came phantosmia, or being plagued by false smells--in BlodgettÖs case, a bad odor like rotting flesh, such as she recognized from the stench of the corpse flower. Traced to the use of Zicam (its ingredient zinc gluconate proved toxic to smell receptor neurons; the FDA has since pulled the nasal spray from the market), her anosmia brought on depression and loss of sexual desire (the role of pheromones). Through her dogged research to understand what was ailing her, Blodgett discovered olfactionÖs intimate relationship with the limbic system, which regulates our emotional and instinctive behavior. Thus, robbed of the rich memory tapestry that smell imparted, she couldnÖt write, stung by the fear of losing what was real--the pleasures of being human. General readers will find her memoir richly nuanced and broadly researched.
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That's what happened here. I'm quite interested in the sense of smell. I have such a good sense of smell that it's sometimes problematic, but mostly it's a pleasure. I've quite enjoyed Oliver Sacks' essays on the subject of smell (gone wrong) and was delighted to see that an entire book was devoted to the subject.
The author shines when she is talking about her personal experience. She's engaging, and weaves science into the narrative beautifully. However, when the writing is "pure science" it falls a bit flat. This is what gives the book a sadly uneven quality. I say "sadly" because there's some great writing here and I enjoyed much of this book, but by page 100 or so I felt I'd had enough of the subject. Now, I already have read a number of other books about the sense of smell, so that might be one reason I didn't feel compelled to continue reading. One book that stands out (and is an example of a five star non-fiction book) is The Emperor of Scent (The Emperor of Scent: A True Story of Perfume and Obsession).
However, this book is worth a perusal, and I would venture to guess that those new to the subject of smell may find the entire book engaging.
Most recent customer reviews
If you have any interest in the subject, get this book and read it; you will profit from the...Read more