A long time ago, a woman I barely knew asked me to go shopping for perfume with her. I don’t particularly enjoy shopping (books excluded). It was a small perfume shop in the Getreidegasse in Salzburg. While she was looking at the things that interested her, I glanced around. One bottle caught my attention. I sprayed some of the content on one of those paper slips they provide in these shops. The world unhinged, I lost my ability to breathe. I had to leave the shop and wait outside. For the next few days I couldn’t think straight. Eventually I gave up and bought the perfume. The smells of dry attics or cellars can also drive me literally insane. Such scents awaken longings that seem unquenchable. Words can do that, too.
When Touch was published, a journalist asked me which sense I could not imagine ever doing without. I said smell.