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3.76 of 5 stars 3.76  ·  rating details  ·  7,265 ratings  ·  411 reviews
Michel Renault is a human void. Following the death of the father he barely knew, he endures his civil service job while eking out an existence of prepackaged pleasure, hollow friendships, TV dinners, and pornography. On a group holiday in Thailand, however, he meets the shyly compelling Valérie, who soon pursues an agenda that Michel himself could never have thought possi...more
Published September 5th 2002 by William Heinemann Ltd (first published 2001)
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Plateforme contains a remarkable amount of sex and is inordinately depressing, but it's well-written, engaging and quite often funny. Houellebecq evidently believes that he's watching the last days of Western civilization, if not of humanity as a whole, and he's interested in exploring what went wrong. He thinks that it's something very much to do with how we experience sex, and how the desire for sex acts on us.

So, here we have dull, inert, 40-ish Michel, who hates his job, has no partner or o...more
An 18-rated review of an 18-rated book.

If you don’t want to read about the gory details of fleshy entangulations and of bodily fluid by the bucketful, then you need to steer well clear of M. Houellebecq. He’s all about that.

The sex is like the worst kind of bad cartoon porn and we can’t possibly be meant to take it seriously. I don’t really know what it’s doing in here. He’s trying to make a serious or black-comedy ironic point about the state of first world/third world relationships and how e...more
Jul 31, 2007 Jane rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people with a high threshold for misanthropy
I just finished this today, reading outside by a corporate fountain on pine street. Fitting considering the book is a brilliant commentary on the intersection of globalization and sexualtiy, or what's left of sensuality in western culture. Houellebecq loves a good disaffected misanthrope and sometimes it's hard to follow an unreliable narrator who's got such a pessimistic worldview but this book really opens up. I didn't get annoyed with the characters the way I did through most of The Elementar...more
Reading this book was fun, in a kind of infuriating way. It exists, more or less, to elicit criticism, which I have in spades. Here's the summary: dude, get a life.
The protagonist -- who's more or less to be identified with the author -- enjoys just about nothing other than sex, and even that leaves him numb by the end. Yes yes much of the plot involves his being in love, but he and his love interest (a fantasy creature who always has a cup of coffee for him after his morning blowjob) never seem...more
Graphic sex! Racism! Misogyny! Sex tourism! Are you offended yet?

I don't think I can say anything about the misogyny that hasn't already been said. Yes, it's misogynistic. Boringly, predictably so. We get it; women are stupid, worthless whores. Is it wrong of me to wish for a little more innovation in my morning dose of bigotry?

But look at Valérie, some say. Valérie is perfect (which is a problem in itself). She has it all: youth, outstanding looks, superior skills in bed, a lot of money, a very...more

A vicious and incredibly bleak social critique that is as subtle and incendiary as a suicide bomber. Houellebecq’s horror and hatred of our modern world spills from nearly every page; nothing is sacred and no one is spared. The novel is narrated by Michel, a pessimistic middle-aged man who, to his mind, lives in an era so corroded by consumerism, narcissism and terrorism that genuine human contact or happiness can only be obtained through the blissful abandon of sexual orgasm – even if it’s with

Nate D
Mar 21, 2014 Nate D rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: the doldrums of cultural collapse
Recommended to Nate D by: murderous French aristocrats
Shelves: france, read-in-2012
Accepting dubious recommendations from the narrator of The Marbled Swarm, who perused a few pages of this in order to be able to appear to to have read it in conversation.

What is it? Essentially, sociological investigation and provocation through the lens of the international tourism economy:

I liked holiday brochures, their abstraction, their way of condensing the places of the world into a limited sequence of possible pleasures and fares. I was particularly fond of the star rating system, whic
i'm really into this guy right now. he seems to hate everything, which i can appreciate. this had a surprising tenderness to it, in comparison to The Elementary Particles, even though there's plenty of bitter social critique. what i like most is Houellebecq's realization that the we in the West are like the declining Roman Empire. he's able to articulate this thesis through his characters but as well as through interjections on social theory.

this book is not without flaws, in particular its stra...more
O yes! Houellebecq, be my guide and saviour! Typical stuff for Houellebecq, modern day society is all about the economic struggle and / or the sexual struggle. Pick one. Most of Houellebecq's characters fail in either or both of these struggles, can't handle the pressure, then turn to self destructive behaviour. Or, they are highly successful in one or both of these struggles, can't handle the pressure, then turn to self descructive behaviour. I love it.

I would like to refer to my friend Jean's...more
Carolyn Heinze
Picked this up out of curiousity, and I can see why he is such a hit in France. There is a category of people here that embraces forced cynicism and intellectual masturbation. Frankly, I couldn't find anything smart about it, but perhaps I'm limited. Funny, I got to page 107 before deciding that time is too precious to waste on something I don't like - the same number of pages I read of Céline's equally irritating Voyage au bout de la nuit - a staple of French literature (and a book one shouldn'...more
probably the worst houellebecq i've read, but still pretty good. a cynical bastard--but the guy can write. and, for social commentary, if you squint and look through the layers of provocation, it's not so shoddy an analysis.

e.g. published a half decade before THE SHOCK DOCTRINE, houellebecq writes about a corporate office in suburban France:
"'It's strange,' he said to her. 'Here we are inside the company like well-fed beasts of burden. And outside are the predators, the savage world. I was in S...more
May 31, 2011 Sophia rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Sophia by: 1001 books you must read before you die
The word 'platform' connotes a set of ideas or an edge, and both are evident in Michael Houellebecq's novel. Michel is a fortysomething civil servant who numbly skims through life with minimal meaningful human contact until he books a trip to Thailand. Upon returning, he strikes up a relationship with tripmate Valérie, who, along with her boss Jean-Yves, is trying to corner the market on midprice leisure travel. Michel helps them along with his ideas on sex tourism. Sex—plentiful and graphically...more
I just finished this, and I'm not sure of what I think and how many stars to give...
What bothers me the most is his vulgarism and literally - pornography (he could write sex scenes in much more subtle way) and mostly because of this I didn't gave 4 stars.
This book is very well-written (except for the dirty sex scenes that I didn't like), and full of brilliant insights of global politics, economics, sex-tourism, politics and religions, the nature of the individual, the meaning of life.... A very...more
Michael Meeuwis
One and a half stars, and I'll explain why at the end. Reads like a cross between "Penthouse Letters," Zizek's C-level material, and--for one vertiginous stretch in the middle--Thomas Friedman at his hottest and flattest. Pauvre Michel is having sex-life problems, until he has sex with a Thai prostitute--apparently third-world women can still make the sex properly. (Their economic privation has saved them from western-style alienation.) Then he meets Valerie, a first-world woman who--néanmoins--...more
Paul Gleason
Platform, yet another brilliant Houellebecq novel, is really just a warm up for The Possibility of an Island and The Map and the Territory. As such, it provides a nice overview of - or, if you prefer - "platform" for his philosophy.

And MH is a philosophical novelist, not the sexist and transgressive novelist whom many critics make him out to be.

Because I don't have a lot of time right now, I'm just going to provide a quotation from the end of Platform, one that I hope will interest you enough to...more
Houllebecq is a dirty, dirty man. He's dirty, he's cynical and unrelentingly critical (critical is a benign word for his skewering, by the by) of contemporary French (and American) culture and society. It is for precisely these reasons that the end of this novel, a retelling of The Stranger, is so astonishing and incredibly beautiful--perhaps one of the most beautiful and poignant things I've ever read.(That's right--I said "ever." Bring it.) It is both a popular (I will NOT read another book ab...more
Rene Stein
Skvělá kniha, i když se mi zdálo, že se v ní objevují příliš často motivy podobné motivům v další Houellebecqově knize Možnost ostrova.
Nemyslím si, že se kniha bude číst za dalších 50 let, protože málokdo asi bude chápat narážky na evropskou politiku, ekonomickou situaci Francie a další dobově podmíněné reálie, díky kterým je kniha dnes tak atraktivní. Kniha je zábavnou a přitom přesnou diagnózu neuróz současné západní společnosti. Nejzábavnější jsou úšklebky nad fungováním velkých korporací, úv...more
Jul 18, 2007 elizabeth rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: misogynist pricks
Houellebecq has his moments of funny, particularly in describing the merdique travails of modern air travel. And it's not his statement in this book that Islam is a violent religion that particularly earned my vitriol. Nor is it his "provocative" thesis that the only way to save the French tourism industry is through sex tourism, though both of those seem to have done it for a number of readers. Clever man that he is, Houellebecq sets up his provocations so that any critics just sound like shril...more
I had to give a presentation on this book in my "Travel Writing" class during my Sophomore year of college. The experience of reading the book had been so conflicted--Is sex fulfillling, or just the purest expression of how empty human life is? Does Houellebecq hate everyone or just Muslims?--that it probably wasn't my finest collegiate moment. It did, however, allow me to use the word 'sodomy' in an academic context and get into a near shouting match with a woman who I would one day come to rec...more
Marissa Barbieri
I complained to my buddy John about burning out on GOOD books and needing to be BLOWN AWAY and he recommended Houellebecq (whose name I love!). And while I wasn't particularly blown away by the writing itself, or the plot, I did find the tone, and the philosophy of the main character quite fascinating. I can't figure out where the "recommended to" button is on this business, but I would recommend it to horny misanthropes. You're in good company here!

(I'd also like to point out I didn't know it h...more
Really glad I stuck with this one. I thought it was utter trash at the beginning (as most erotic writing is) but there is a fantastic evolution of style and content that takes place, plus a beautiful transition at the end, making me realize the things I hated at the beginning were very precise choices the author made, and I have to respect him for that.
What an angry man is Michel Houellebecq...
A detached man of critical views and strong sexual needs inherits his murdered father and goes on a trip to Thailand. The writing is provocative, and would be more so if I thought that the author was the narrator. He's annoying, funny, disgusting and sexy. There's a resemblance to Camus, too. And Celine.
Hareton Linton
ვალერი შემიყვარდა. ერთ–ერთი საუკეთესო პერსონაჟი ქალია!
I still like his previous book "Atomized" better.
The opening part is brilliant, an ode to Camus' "Stranger". I actually read the first few pages a while ago in a cafe and got hooked; couldn't get it out of my mind and finally got the book and started reading it.
I guess Houellebecq is not your traditional novelist -say, like Marquez or Pamuk- with a passion for storytelling. In his first book, "Whatever," he actually confesses that the novel form is not a suitable means to convey the problems of...more
Alex Flynn
While it contained some interesting ideas as a novel Platform totally failed in my view. Houellebecq is a wonderful enfante terrible, able to elicit equal derision and acclaim, but when it gets down to the actual writing he is lacking. The protagonist doesn't seem so like a character as much as an author surrogate for Michel ideas. While I would have been accepting of a racist or sexist character, when he is so thinly veiled it takes the book from critique to diatribe. Other then the protagonist...more
Solange Dias
Michel é um funcionário público que leva uma vida solitária. Com o dinheiro que recebe de herança pelo homicídio de seu pai Michel decide ir de férias à Tailândia num grupo de excursionistas que se revela bastante heterogéneo. Torna-se muito interessante assistir aos diálogos deste grupo que marcado pelas diferenças de classes sociais, de atitudes revela o quão frágil é os valores da sociedade ocidental.

É na Tailândia que Michel conhece Valérie, uma mulher que trabalha no sector turístico (prime...more
PLATFORM follows the life of Michel, a middle aged French government employee, told in first person. The novel starts with the following line : "Father died last year. I don't subscribe to the notion that we only become truly adult when our parents die; we never become truly adult." It is sort of a nod to THE OUTSIDER.

Michel is a detached, frustrated and sex obsessed man whose father is murdered by a conservative Muslim (Michel's father was having an affair with the man's sister). Michel goes on...more
so many moments in this book caused me to laugh out loud in a way i do when someone is saying something well that no one is expected, or 'allowed' to say. we also have an unlikable narrator here (who believes, for instance, that sex-tourism is good for the countries in which it occurs, and for the people involved.) yet i did like him in a way, which is a difficult feat for an author to pull off: to get you to go with and stay interested in someone you wouldn't really want to be around in life.
Avec Plateforme, Michel Houellebecq nous emmène en voyage mais à sa façon. Sa façon n'est pas celle d'un récit de voyage et encore moins celle d'un guide du routard - ceux qui le liront sauront pourquoi. Malgré tout, il est principalement question de tourisme dans ce livre. Michel Houellebecq ausculte ou autopsie, par le prisme des voyages, notre société. Il considère que le tourisme est devenu le dernier eldorado, un exutoire permettant de supporter les contraintes du quotidien. Il capte l'espr...more
I found this book through Rowan Somerville's Good Sex in Fiction list in the Guardian. This was number 10, and his description was "Strange perhaps to begin this list with a book I really dislike – but churlish I feel to leave it out when it is such a reflection of contemporary views. Bleak, cold and mechanical, it's sex in a world without spirit with a faint possibility of redemption through heartless shagging."

I feel delighted that I got more from this book than did Mr Somerville. He's not wro...more
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Michel Houellebecq (born Michel Thomas), born 26 February 1958 (birth certificate) or 1956 on the French island of Réunion, is a controversial and award-winning French novelist. To admirers he is a writer in the tradition of literary provocation that reaches back to the Marquis de Sade and Baudelaire; to detractors he is a peddler of sleaze and shock. Having written poetry and a biography of the h...more
More about Michel Houellebecq...
The Elementary Particles The Possibility of an Island La carte et le territoire Whatever H.P. Lovecraft: Against the World, Against Life

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“Not having anything around to read is dangerous: you have to content yourself with life itself, and that can lead you to take risks.” 24 likes
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