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Hux

Michel Houellebecq

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The only contemporary writer that really resonates with me.

 

Atomised.

 

This was the first book of his I read having previously only known him through reputation, namely that of being a racist misogynist (though in today's climate that applies to people who make the 'okay' hand gesture so I'll take that with a pinch of salt). I'm not sure what all the fuss is about; he describes sex. What of it? Anyway, I absolutely loved this. It was like being nourished by food, a feeling I haven't had while reading for quite some time. My interest was waning somewhat by the final third but that tends to happen with every book (all books, in my opinion being longer than they need to be). It picked up again after that and was a delight. My only criticism would be the epilogue. It essentially transforms the novel from a story about brothers to a peculiar science fiction romp that wasn't remotely necessary. I could have done without that in truth. 

 

The story is essentially two half brothers (Bruno and Michel) who have no real bond until adulthood. Bruno is obsessed with sex while Michel is almost asexual with only an interest in his scientific work. I must say, I found it hard to believe Michel as a character but complete understood Bruno. That may say more about me. 

 

I'm not sure what Houellebecq was trying to say by giving the two women in the brother's lives such tragic endings. Maybe that's where the misogyny accusation comes from. He seems to be suggesting that their sexual freedom is the very thing that has ruined their lives and left them unfulfilled as women. To be fair, that seems to be exactly what Sally Rooney was also saying in 'Normal People' too yet I doubt she gets accused of being a misogynist. The book is clearly about our 'atomised' western societies and how we have lost meaning so I'm not sure the criticism is valid. It's kinda the point. 

 

 

Edited by Hux

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The Map and the Territory. 

 

My second book by Houellebecq, and while it wasn't as good as Atomised, it was, nonetheless, a wonderful reading experience and frankly, a damn sight more creative and interesting than most of the turgid contemporary novels I mistakenly read because they're nominated for Booker prizes.

 

The book is about an artist called Jed who seeks to paint the famous writer, you guessed it, Michel Houellebecq. I enjoyed Houellebecq making himself a character, and especially enjoyed the moments when he mocked his own character (at one point he muses on whether Houellebecq might be a paedophile).

 

I'll put the final third of the book in spoilers because I honestly didn't see the it coming.

 

Spoiler

In the final part of the book, the famous writer Michel Houellebecq is brutally murdered. Decapitated no less. His murder is not especially important in terms of the plot, or who did it (no-one especially significant), it's more the fact that it's a curious exploration of celebrity and death, Houellebecq's using his own fame as a device for looking at those themes. 

 

 

Frankly, this book, though not being anything profound, was significantly more fun and enjoyable to read than most of the contemporary stuff I read these days. Original and thought-provoking. I will definitely seek out more of his work.

 

Edited by Hux

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