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Monje ha renunciado al sexo y sólo pasea para ir al supermercado y Bruno profesor de literatura consumidor de pornografía misógino racis. This book doesn t care if you read itIt doesn t care if you buy it or borrow it if you deface it if you understand it if you have the remotest interest in itIt doesn t try to be liked It s far far far too cool for school French author Michel Houellebec not caring And when I say that I do NOT mean it s cool in a positive way I found half of it dry aloof and didactic like reading a doctorate level physics textbook It felt imperious and full of itself It felt over my head The other half of it was full of somewhat shocking sexual debauchery that would be at home in a de Sade story Lots of public masturbation orgies and licking various people in various places Lots and lots of lickingActually I wouldn t be surprised if someone told me Houellebec was inspired by the Maruis de Sade whose writings similarly alternate between long philosophical rants and naughty Libertine caprices De Sade though I have to say has a far charming delivery The Elementary Particles follows two brothers Michel the asexual scientist and Bruno the pervert through their dreary childhoods and then their calamitous personal relationships The story does contain promising hints of something alive their mother was a free spirited hippie who spent time at a commune that her son later revisited but it never uite got there for me It was all trapped in a test tube handled by hands wearing latex gloves A glacial reticence the brothers inability to love is infused in this textI m not too sure what to make of his attitude toward women who he says are superior but who live unhappily until he kills them offAt the end of the day it s a far less interesting version of L tranger with a similar dose of existentialism bleakness and distain for human relationships This story rarely pulled me in mainly because of the detached writing style which often resorted to the all knowing narrator popping up in the midst of a somewhat interesting narrative to say what would happen in 15 years or what happened 15 years previously Then using the boring device of either scientific or news articles would fill in the story rather than letting the readers experience it Show Don t Tell is such a basic rule in the writing world but apparently Michel Houellebec didn t get the memoThat all said I could be completely wrong about this book And that s okay because it really doesn t care what I think it s all meaningless anyway rightADDENDUMIn the interest of fairness please also look at Manny s review He does a better job than I at explaining what this book is about Houellebec using sexuality Western Society s sick obsession with the uick fix as an illustration for materialism is an interesting idea even if it is mind blowingly depressing

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Les Particules élémentaires

Ta y virtuoso del resentimiento Una novela demoledora sobre una generación derrotada de la mano del más contundente escritor francés viv. Years ago I went out on a few dates with a French guy He was rich and good looking though of course way too short and he seemed pretty smart but I never could bring myself to kiss him He had this typically Gallic extreme snottiness that I found amusing even endearing but even as I enjoyed this I suspected that his disdain for everything non French might indicate something a bit too dark for me At a certain point I decided that he wasn t a regular charming misanthrope I discerned that he hated Muslims black people and homosexuals even than he hated everyone else and so I didn t go out with him againThat French guy was a big fan of Michel HoullebecAt the time I wondered for a moment why I find generalized misanthropy acceptable even kind of charming but felt specifically targeted hatreds were completely repellant I mean of course I understand why I think that but how rational is it Why is hating fewer people not okay while hating everyone is fineAgain of course I understand why that s the case but it is a little funny Anyway this train of thought doesn t have much to do with this book except that maybe it does relate to the French and the way that they think about people But I don t know much about them as a culture and therefore won t generalize hereI was so into the first half of The Elementary Particles that it made me feel terrible in that amazing hedonistic I hate myself for loving you way that top shelf Martin Amis brings on This book has a lot in common with St Aubyn s The Patrick Melrose Novels which I never got around to reviewing properly both in that it s about the extraordinarily fucked up children of wealthy Europeans and that it degenerates somewhat into overly expository and transparently philosophical fake monologues later on in the book In other words I was obsessively entranced by the first half and the second half was just okayMy favorite thing about The Elementary Particles was the way that it would constantly pull back from the story of its characters to tie their experiences to generalized historical and biological trends This is what fiction is and how it works and I love seeing it spelled out like that This book is about two half brothers with a terrible mom and tries to describe and comment on massive transformations in human life and experience For the most part I think it did do a pretty good job though I m not sure I agree with its arguments and conclusionsAgain I really loved the first half of this book though I didn t think the second half was as good I d be embarrassed to recommend it to most people based on its graphic sexual content and bleak view of human relations though if I were honest I d admit I think he s got a lot rightI think based on this book that Houllebec wrestles with a lot of the uestions most significant to the time we re upon He does this wrestling in a way that might not be palatable to all and while I find this compelling I haven t yet decided if I ll go out with him again

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Una visión feroz y sarcástica del presente a través de dos hermanastros cuarentones Michel un investigador en biología ue vive como un. You can interpret this book in several different ways A lot of people view it as a depressing hate filled rant filled with a really startling amount of unpleasant sex I m not saying that that s necessarily incorrect In fact my immediate association was with the fictitious books that Moreland invents in one of the Anthony Powell novels Seated One Day at my Organ by the author of One Hundred Disagreeable Sexual Experiences But I think there are interesting ways of reading Les Particules which show that it s not as pointless as it first appearsSo after considering it a while I d say that this is basically a book about sexual frustration Bruno the main character has an extremely active libido but is unfortunately not at all attractive he s fat ugly and lacks charm He spends his days in a constant agony of unfulfilled desire I recently read Hamsun s Hunger the poor guy in Hamsun is broke and hungry and no matter what he tries to think about he always comes back to money and food within a few minutes Hamsun s very brave about showing how degrading this is for him Bruno s plight is similar He s not getting any sex and that s all HE can think about And in fact it s not unreasonable to argue that Houellebec is being brave too in describing just how humiliating that is for him The author could put it in general terms or he could indirectly suggest it but a detailed description of how Bruno masturbates over his algebra notes while watching girls on the train drives it home far effectively Il prenait l autorail de Cr cy la Chapelle Chaue fois ue c tait possible et c tait presue toujours possible il s installait en face d une jeune fille seule La plupart avaient les jambes crois es une chemisier transparent ou autre chose Il ne s installait vraiment en face pl tot en diagonale mais souvent sur la m me banuette moins de deux m tres Il bandait d j en apercevant les longs cheveux blonds ou bruns en choisissant une place en circulant entre les rang es la douleur s avivait dans son slip Au moment de s asseoir il avait d j sortit un mouchoir de sa poche Il suffisait d ouvrir un classeur de le poser sur ses cuisses en uelues coups c tait fait Parfois uand la fille d croissait les jambes au moment o il sortait sa bite il n avait m me pas besoin de se toucher il se lib rait d un jet en apercevant la petite culotte La mouchoir tait une s curit en g n ral il jaculait sur les pages du classeur sur les uations de second degr sur les sch mas d insectes sur la production de charbon de l URSS La fille poursuivait la lecture de son magazine But why does Bruno feel this terrible and what does it say about our society Houellebec has some interesting observations about how free market economics have entered into people s personal lives having also read Naomi Klein s The Shock Doctrine in the near past this resonated rather well In the economic sphere Klein argues persuasively that the logical long term result is a world where Dick Cheney and his immediate circle of friends own almost everything and a good 40% of the world owns nothing In the sexual sphere the corresponding long term result is a world where no one really wants to fuck anybody except Scarlett Johansson or Megan Fox depending on whether they prefer blondes or brunettes and will not even consider fucking anyone who isn t young and thin Bruno exemplifies this horrible state of being thwarted sexual desire has turned his life into a living hell and Houellebec is psychologically credible in showing how it progressively destroys him making him hate everyone and everything One interesting angle is that the book contrasts the materialistic world view that has him in its jaws against the traditional Christian world view It s probably not an accident that when Bruno does in the end meet a woman who truly loves him she s called Christiane Here s another example of how the graphic descriptions of sex are not as gratuitous as they first appear Bruno has just spent a very happy week with Christiane but must leave Bruno avait d j pli sa tente et rang ses affaires dans la voiture il passa sa derni re nuit dans la caravane Au matin il essaya de p n trer Christiane mais cette fois il echoua il se sentit mu et nerveux Joue sur moi dit elle Elle tala le sperme sur son visage et sur ses seins Viens me voir dit elle encore une fois au moment o il passait la porte Il promit de venir In a Brigade Mondaine novel this would just be pornographic Here it comes across as a rather moving scene I felt very sorry for poor Christiane it was already clear that things couldn t possibly work out wellThe part of the novel I found least engaging was the thread that followed Michel Bruno s half brother Instead of experiencing life as one long torment of desire Michel hardly feels desire at all He becomes a biophysicist and eventually finds a way to create an immortal race of asexual beings which duly replace humanity I wasn t very convinced by any of this partly because Houellebec seems to be unaware that biologists have spent a lot of time wondering about why it is that sexual reproduction is a good idea It s an interesting story and deserves to be treated with respect I don t think however that we need to discuss whether Michel s idea makes scientific sense I don t believe Houellbec is seriously saying that we should find a way to evolve away from sex any than Brecht in The Tutor is seriously suggesting autocastration as a solution He s just saying that the pain that sex and love cause people is such that you re willing to consider an extreme solution in order to escape from it Unfortunately Houellebec has loaded up with scientific buzzwords but doesn t seem to have any deep understanding and I found the uantum mechanics much irritating than the pornography For example I suppose that all the references to the Einstein Podolsky Rosen gedankenexperiment are intended to suggest that Bruno and Michel are inextricably bound together uantum entangled in fact their mother is the source Bruno and Michel are the two electrons But if you insist on a uantum mechanical metaphor a particleanti particle pair seems both obvious and easier to understand invoking EPR is basically just too fucking clever Which is a reasonable criticism of the whole book in factI discovered yesterday evening that Les Particules is listed in 1001 Books To Read Before You Die Well I suppose I agree Though I m also warning you that it could significantly advance the date of your demise


10 thoughts on “Les Particules élémentaires

  1. says:

    You can interpret this book in several different ways A lot of people view it as a depressing hate filled rant filled with a really startling amount of unpleasant sex I'm not saying that that's necessarily incorrect In fact my immed

  2. says:

    It's a curious idea to reproduce when you don't even like life It's rare to come across a book filled with so pure of hate At first I thought maybe it's was just some good old fashioned misogyny with maybe a little bit of nationalism and Arab hating thrown in but then something curious happened the whole of society got thrown into the hate fest that is this book Hippies? Hate them a lot Italians? Yep really hate them w

  3. says:

    Wow What an incredible book The Epilogue makes a huge difference in how one might view it on the whole It certainly did for me I was

  4. says:

    This book doesn't care if you read itIt doesn't care if you buy it or borrow it if you deface it if you understand it if y

  5. says:

    Okay I decided I would take a go at actually justifying my rating for this book rather than just make half hearted apologies at my preference for a so absurdly misogynistic and let's be frank pornographic novel First of all I like Houellebec's unrelenting pessimism It's far beyond nihlism so destructive and negative so emphatic in

  6. says:

    Extraordinary outstanding and absolutely not to be missed The Elementary Particles holds you captive like only the best of 'em can Think a long cold autumn afternoon sipping coffee and reading Never Let Me Go Think Dan Brown# poolside All of these experiences that could conceivably last one blissful insatiable sitting the novels

  7. says:

    Daringly original and yes ludicrously filthy but for anyone that thinks this is just three hundred and eighty pages of Masturbating blow jobs and debauchery your missing the point as there are far serious things going on here than sp

  8. says:

    Years ago I went out on a few dates with a French guy He was rich and good looking though of course way too short and he seemed pretty smart but I never could bring myself to kiss him He had this typically Gallic extreme snottiness that I found amusing even endearing but even as I enjoyed this I suspected that his disdain for everything non French might indicate something a bit too dark for me At a certain point I decided that he wasn't

  9. says:

    This book brought me to laughter And this is not a compliment but actually uite the oppositeEvery character here is monodimensional and unrealistic while the story itself is ridicolous Blame me if you like but after the tenth masturbation scene filled up with philosophical rubbish and Andre Gide uotes I've felt a big na

  10. says:

    The longueur of French academic life The pain of being 40 and unfuckable Something about uantum physics It's all here in this eggheady gloom festival