Jan 30, 2009

define 'enjoyable,' would you, please?

Worth scanning: the list of reader reviews on Goodreads of The Elementary Particles by Michel Houellebecq. Some love it...

An unconventional, provocative book that seduced me into the heart of the most pessimistic social and philosophical conclusions regarding the collapse of the individual as well as the whole society in the face of failed values.

Some hate it...

As offensive as parts of it are (yes, yes, I'm supposed to be offended, and I can see the ambiguity about whether the misogyny and racism expressed is the narrator's or the protagonist's - all very dull and adolescent, like a stand-up being ironically racist and sexist), it's mostly just DULL.

But it's this review that nudged it into my "holy shit, seriously?" category.

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, we don't say why we just do. Nature? Fuck it!! Sex? Love it but hate it. French Intellectuals? Oh really fuck those guys, especially Deleuze, but make it clear we don't like any of those guys from the 60's. 1968? Hahahaha, fucking assholes. Children? Masterbation fodder, or else just more fucking people. Growing old? Really hate it. People lying to themselves that they aren't old? Hate them so much too. Hate hate hate hate hate. ... But through all of this hate and the depressing feelings of the total waste of life we all are, and the simple fact that no one is going to be happy, it will elude us and the desire for happiness will only make us miserable; this book ends up being an interesting, and enjoyable read.

Emphasis mine.