The Essence of Camphor is a wonderful story. It is mesmerizing how closely the childhood memories of a perfumer overlap the imaginary and the real. The camphor base of his perfumes mirror his loneliness, and the loss of a friend - she had said that like camphor, death is a cure for many pains. Most of the other characters appear ghostly or distant, as sometimes adults appear to children. At the same time, the image of the 'camphor sparrow' becomes very real, it literally takes flight from its frame in the living room. It reappears on a tree, reached it is dead -- hollow with ants, or again, sighted flying above the rooftop with a string attached, it is alive and free. These precise images are offset by a sketchy background of families of women where men are mostly absent. The boy-protagonist's adventures are very much his own, and passionate in his creation of objects which to him are 'real', more real probably than things around him. What are his creations and how real are they? Images telegraph back and forth till a sense of the past and the future is blurred, as the house once abandoned where people sat with their heads bowed is later inhabited with people who bring with them a similar uncanny melancholy. In the narrative, camphor becomes a metaphor for healing, for emptiness, for renewal, and for death. Heavily layered, read it carefully. Highly recommended reading!