Selected Work

“Post-Ph.D. an Intellectual Comes to Her Senses,” in The Chronicle Review

So when…I became passionately interested in the useless beauty of perfume, it was not as though I had simply taken up a new and unexpected hobby—long-distance motorcycle riding, say, or pole vaulting. It was more along the lines of announcing, after a lifetime of being allergic to mosquitoes, deathly afraid of snakes, and inclined to narcolepsy in heat and humidity, that my life’s true calling was to gather small poisonous frogs in the Amazon jungle. My friends looked at me with the gentle concern we reserve for the harmlessly insane. My mother said, “Really?” And then there was silence.

The Perfume Diet” in O: The Oprah Magazine

“What I did, and do, have is greed—greed for knowledge, greed for sensation, greed for delight, and for deliciousness in as many forms as possible—and larger than average portions of enthusiasm and curiosity. Though I didn’t know it at the time, these were my tools, and when I gave myself permission to follow my passion for perfume, I put them into unfettered, unified action for the first time. The result was not a diet so much as an invasion—the infiltration of perfume into nearly every aspect of my life touched by food.”

“The Scented Word”

My preface to the gorgeous poetry anthology, The Book of Scented Things, Jehanne Dubrow and Lindsay Lusby, Eds.

“The intangibility of scent, its ghostliness, is part of its power. Both difficult to grasp and impossible to avoid, it often turns up in our stories at just the point where language fails us.”

Nosy Girl

I answer Nosy Girl’s excellent questions, “What do you smell like?” and “What do you like to smell?”

“I suspect most of us would be as disconcerted to find out what we smell like to others as we are when we first hear our voices on tape. That said, I probably spend a lot more time sniffing myself than most people do…”

“The List: Scent of a Woman”

Harper’s Bazaar asked me to name ten classic perfumes.