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3.81  ·  Rating details ·  19,066 ratings  ·  1,121 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
Paperback, UK, 362 pages
Published September 4th 2003 by Vintage (first published August 24th 2001)
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Average rating 3.81  · 
Rating details
 ·  19,066 ratings  ·  1,121 reviews

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Paul Bryant
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
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
MJ Nicholls
Mar 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Senryu Review:

When sex tourism
meets Islamic terrorism
a white man is sad
Sep 27, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: french
He's not stupid, but I don't like him. He goes out of his way to shock people, to make himself unpleasant.

I enjoy a juicy controversy. I support writers who show courage to take on controversial ideas and contentious issues and put them to a test of literature, to examine its ins and outs with an honesty and skill required of an artist, without a care for what the easily-offended might say (e.g; I’m incensed when some self-righteous people denounce Lolita solely for the nature of its topic)

Now t
Apr 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Julian Barnes informs us that Mario Vargas Llosa once described Houellebecq's Platform as insolent. He meant it as a praise and I totally agree. There's nothing optimistic here. No silver lining in reality's dense smog but no degradation either. Only raw misery and a steady pace through modern age's thick shit.

Platform is a good example of form following function. We watch everything through the eyes of a 40-year-old man who seems to be alienated from everything and everyone in a Meursault kind
Feb 01, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020-read, france
This book is a fascinating mess: Houellebecq attacks modern-day capitalism and the atomization of society, dissects the tourism industry, ponders Islamic terrorism – oh yes, and there’s quite a lot of pornographic writing in this text. Our protagonist is Michel (yup, like the author), a guy in his early forties who works for the French Ministry of Culture where he mostly does calculations and sometimes gets confronted with ridiculous artistic projects that get monetized by the state (as we all k ...more
Sep 09, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Michael Finocchiaro
Can't stand the masturbatory writing of Houellebecq. Can't. stand. it. ...more
Steven Godin
Apr 14, 2019 rated it liked it
My third Houellebecq novel, and it sits right smack bang in between the other two with it's dick hanging out. The Elementary Particles (or Atomised as I knew it then) I really liked. It was rude and crude yes, but the story had me hooked and it very well written, whereas Lanzarote I really didn't like. It was cheap and tacky and lazy and featured a narrator I wanted to kick in the balls and push into a live volcano. Regardless what people (mostly women) make of him and his themes, there is no do ...more
Jun 12, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jim Fonseca
Jul 31, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: french-authors
I think a good subtitle for this book is Sex and the Self-Centered Man.
Anomie. A self-centered man is incapable of loving anyone except himself and he is not really all that keen on that relationship either. He’s basically a misogynist and a xenophobe. Finally he finds a woman who more or less loves him, or tolerates him, and he apparently “kind of” loves her back. She is in the business of working for an international hotel chain that is setting up sex hotels in Thailand. Not all cultures of th
Mar 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After reading Submission, Platform came to confirm my initial view I had for Michel Houellebecq. Same here the writer is cynical, raw, eccentric in a way, but more than all, an absolutely realist, whether people want to accept it or not. It is easy to see why he shocks with his books, but to me, this is not his point, he just writes down through his plots the reality, no matter how cruel it is. And he deserves congrats, it needs courage and some times audacity to stamp all these to the paper and ...more
Maru Kun
I admire how French intellectuals can look at the same fundamental issues of the human condition from so many different angles.

In the "Myth of Sisyphus" Camus examines the absurdity of human existence through a careful analysis of whether or not we should commit suicide. He includes references to many great works of literature which I wish I had the time to read.

In "Platform" Houellebecq examines the absurdity of human existence through a careful analysis of the marketing strategy of mid-market
Nov 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 19, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-dutch, philosophy
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
Erik F.

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

Apr 16, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: contemporary
2012 view: Houellebecq's extremely controversial (anti-Muslim comments and pro-sex tourism stanc) read is a sexualy explicit, modern Western Europe urban civilisation analysing, first person narrative of a civil servant falling into a steamy relationship and getting involved in the package tour sector. An amazing piece of work. 9 out of 12.

2007 view: Houellebecq's debatedly controversial sexualy explicit and modern urban civilisation analysing first person narrative of a civil servant falling in
Leo Robertson
Relevant to something I'm researching- can't think why anyone else would read it.

Tedious and meandering.

Every time I read 'Clearly man was never meant to be happy', it's like, that kind of statement is something no one in the entire universe can make because they don't have access to enough information in order to make it. All it means is 'I am an unhappy man.' Boo hoo lol.

Man was meant to decide whether or not he wants to be happy. He can be unhappy if he wants, but why?
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 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 a sex to
Carolyn Heinze
Jul 27, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lifestooshort
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
"Platform" is, very succinctly, a love story, which I wasn't expecting to conclude when I first read about the misogyny, the islamophobia and the overall polemics surrounding this book. On the other hand, it felt very familiar to The Elementary Particles when it came to the type of relationship between the narrator and his partner.

The writing is very "hoarse", the sex scenes are essentially pornographic with things being called by their names and lasting for a paragraph or two. Still, there are
Michael Meeuwis
Jan 13, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Pablo A.
Jan 14, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

After reading this novel, I confirm that Houellebecq is the kind of writers that is hard to find nowadays. He writes about how he see the world, he doesn't write what other want to read. Nowadays, most of the writers are just business man, trying to sell their books without compromise them selfs exposing a philosophy or and idea. Houellebecq just write what he thinks, analyzing the present, and projecting to the future.

In Platform we can read strong compliments against occident, th
Nate D
Aug 14, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: the doldrums of cultural collapse
Recommended to Nate D by: murderous French aristocrats
Shelves: read-in-2012, france
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
Nov 08, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011, books-i-own
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
This is a surprise literary gem... If you excuse the masochism and the graphic sexuality (which shouldn't be a surprise, considering the bikini-clad hottie on the cover) Essentially, it's a story about love and loss and moving on (or not) It's about sexuality, about western ideals versus eastern and third world. The world we're living in, at least for the narrator, is a bleak one when it comes to gender roles. A lot of questions are asked in regards to the attractiveness of sexual tourism, witho ...more
Jul 18, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  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
A typical Houellebecq novel... a racist, sexist middle-aged man who’s either off on long, depressed, existential musings or engaged in loveless sex or nauseatingly detailed fantasies. Thoroughly unpleasant, not much of a payoff... and yet, I like it and I’ll keep reading him. Dunno what’s wrong with me...
Aug 23, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"When your love life is over, life in general takes on a sort of conventional, forced quality. One retains a human form, one's habitual behavior, a sort of structure, but one's heart, as they say, isn't in it." ...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, who writes vulgar sleazy literature to shock. His works though, pa ...more

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