Chad Post's Reviews > The Possibility of an Island

The Possibility of an Island by Michel Houellebecq
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's review
Dec 30, 11

really liked it
Read from December 27 to 30, 2011

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message 1: by Tom (new)

Tom You liked it, eh? I read the novel he wrote before this one (don't remember the title), and was irritated by Houellebecq's hypocrisy and adolescent yearning to shock and offend (yawn). Seems to excel in shitting in his diapers, but not in wiping afterwards.

Chad Post I read The Elementary Particles/Atomised back when it cam out 8-9 years ago, and my memories of it are vague, but generally positive. Someday I might read Platform . . . much more excited to check out the new one.

Anyway, over the past couple years, I've read a bunch of dystopian/post-apocalyptic novels by traditionally "literary" authors (in contrast to sci-fi) mainly to see what different writers viewed as the cause of the world's downfall, and what horrors the future contains.

There's the anti-science sort of book, the humanity will destroy itself novels, the hyperconsumer will eat the world books, etc. I liked this because of the involvement of the cult and the bit about the longing for immortality.

I know what you mean about Houellebecq's attempt to shock like Celine (and falling short because nothing is really shocking anymore, especially not when you try to shock to pose), but I actually find that sort of funny. Like it's a total act for this Parisian book world that *wants* Houellebecq to be a certain type of literary bad boy.

Like at the beginning when Daniel rises to prominence on all the anti-Islam sketches. In contrast to Daniel's more perceptive opinions about youth culture and sex and love, these sketches just seem intentionally stupid, almost as if Houellebecq was like, "Oh, you want to obsess about my anti-Islam stance and my intent to 'incite racial hatred'? Well, then you'll love this dumb anti-Islam shit I'll throw into the new book at every turn." It's juvenile, sure, but in a way sort of entertains me, since French book culture can be a bit too serious at times.

Anyway, it's not a great book (if GoodReads only had a 10 point scale . . . this is a 6-6.4 in my world), but an entertaining one to read during vacation week . . .

message 3: by Tom (new)

Tom Thank you for your response. I'll give Houellebecq another shot. The fact that he once wrote a book about H. P. Lovecraft wants to make me like him, and what you say about his performing an act for the Parisian book world now makes me anticipate that Lovecraft, for him, may be upping the Poe ante, since the French love Poe and since Lovecraft was not only, like Poe, a writer of horror stories but also a racist, like Poe, and anti-semite. . . But maybe those aspects of Lovecraft's personality don't enter into H's book on him.

Tosh I am reading his new one, and I think it is his best book.

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