Rogier van Bakel celebrates the debut of Chandler Burr, The New York Times' new perfume critic, whom America's newspaper of record describes as the first olfactory correspondent in English-language journalism. Awestruck by the unintentional hilarity in Burr's tortured metaphors, van Bakel comes through with a few (intentionally) tortured phrases of his own:
The purple prose of scribbling wine connoisseurs notwithstanding, Burr is in a class by himself. His sentences resemble a high-wire act by a doped-up Marcel Proust wannabe; you know it will end badly, in a spectacular logorrheic splat, no less entertaining for being horrific.
That's a good effort, but the scented stylings of Burr are pretty tough to beat:
Rose Barbare is a crepuscular, rose-inflected darkness suffused with a luminosity that floats on the skin. … This is the scent of the darkness that inhabits a Rubens, a warm, rich, purple blackness; Pomegranate Noir is like a box of truffles with the lid on, sweet bits of darkness, waiting. …
Bigarade smells like a person trapped in a complex weather system, the wonderful scent of a guy's armpit and a woman's humid skin washed in fresh rainwater and ozone. … It is a masterful juxtaposition, and smelling Bigarade is like looking down into a well of cool, black water. Your retinas expand from the strange pleasure of this scent.
Read them all, and you'll find this tortured-metaphor thing is as infectious as a tantalizingly down-tempo version of Messiaen's Quatuor pour la fin du temps performed by a gamelan orchestra of midgets dipped in yellow paint.