Perfume and Pain: A Novel (Paperback)

Perfume and Pain: A Novel By Anna Dorn Cover Image
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A controversial LA author attempts to revive her career and finally find true love in this hilarious nod to 1950s lesbian pulp fiction.

Having recently moved both herself and her formidable perfume bottle collection into a tiny bungalow in Los Angeles, mid-list author Astrid Dahl finds herself back in the Zoom writer’s group she cofounded, Sapphic Scribes, after an incident that leaves her and her career lightly canceled. But she temporarily forgets all that by throwing herself into a few sexy distractions—like Ivy, a grad student researching 1950s lesbian pulp who smells like metallic orchids, or her new neighbor, Penelope, who smells like patchouli.

Penelope, a painter living off Urban Outfitters settlement money, immediately ingratiates herself in Astrid’s life, bonding with her best friends and family, just as Astrid and Ivy begin to date in person. Astrid feels judged and threatened by Penelope, a responsible older vegan, but also finds her irresistibly sexy.

When Astrid receives an unexpected call from her agent with the news that actress and influencer Kat Gold wants to adapt her previous novel for TV, Astrid finally has a chance to resurrect her waning career. But the pressure causes Astrid’s worst vice to rear its head—the Patricia Highsmith, a blend of Adderall, alcohol, and cigarettes—and results in blackouts and a disturbing series of events.

Unapologetically feminine yet ribald, steamy yet hilarious, Anna Dorn has crafted an exquisite homage to the lesbian pulp of yore, reclaiming it for our internet and celebrity-obsessed world. With notes of Southern California citrus and sultry smokiness, Perfume and Pain is a satirical romp through Hollywood and lesbian melodrama.

About the Author

Anna Dorn is the author of the novels Vagablonde and Exalted. She is an associate editor at Hobart Pulp. She was a Lambda Literary Fellow and her second novel Exalted is a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. She lives in Los Angeles.

Praise For…

“Acerbic, steamy, and compulsively readable—fans of ribald, satirical humor (with a specific focus on celebrity melodrama and LGBTQ+ culture) will read it in one go. It’s this author’s best work yet. A Sapphic roller-coaster ride and pitch-perfect homage to lesbian pulp fiction.”
KIRKUS (Starred Review)

“This brash novel pushes the envelope in all the best ways.”

"Come to Perfume & Pain for the sexy drama, stay for the satire and hilarious doses of shade thrown at Hollywood. This novel is like driving down PCH listening to Lana Del Rey and vaping out the sunroof. Every moment feels sun-drenched, edgy, and unstoppable."
—ALLIE ROWBOTTOM, author of Aesthetica
“Anna Dorn’s Perfume & Pain is a wonder. Dorn masterfully takes on cancel culture, holier-than-thou writers groups, and the complex rules of lesbian dating. The result is a smart and sexy, laugh-out-loud funny page-turner.”  
—MARCY DERMANSKY,  author of Hurricane Girl and Very Nice

“Perfume & Pain slaps so hard it stings—but in the best way. Astrid, agent of lesbian chaos and love addict who’s half-heartedly trying to change, is a magnetic main character, and I found myself relating to too many of her uncouth opinions. It was thoroughly enjoyable to follow Astrid’s antics—I flipped pages fast and LOLed frequently. And I’ll never again see the name Patricia Highsmith without thinking about Astrid’s favorite drug cocktail that leads to her most entertaining bad behavior.”
—CELIA LASKEY, author of Under the Rainbow, a finalist for the 2020 Center for Fiction First Novel Prize

“Lurid and sensational. Perfume & Pain is deeply entertaining, hilarious, and smart. A compelling window into cancel culture, writing, and lesbianism. Anna Dorn never misses.”
—EMILY AUSTIN, author of Interesting Facts About Space 

"Perfume & Pain combines the very best impulses of pulp fiction (dysfunction, drama, deception) with Anna's signature whip-smart, fearless style. Darkly funny and careening down every perverted, doomed spiral, this is the funniest novel of the year and Dorn's best yet. Light on its feet yet endlessly probing, Perfume & Pain is as sharp as it is delicious."
—JENNY FRAN DAVIS, author of Dykette

Product Details
ISBN: 9781668047170
ISBN-10: 1668047179
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: May 21st, 2024
Pages: 352
Language: English