Patrick McCoy's Reviews > Lanzarote

Lanzarote by Michel Houellebecq
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Sep 26, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: contemporary-fiction

Lanzarote is a short (only 87 pages) novella by Michel Houllebeq, which incidentally is a small volcanic Spanish island off the coast of Africa. I was really impressed by his previous novel, Platform, so I picked this up along with another by him, Atomised UK (The Elementary Particles US). This novella has several of the elements from Platform, a vacation setting, sex, humor, and a rant against Muslims. His prose is very easy to digest and as I mentioned often quite funny (here he is discussing the holiday habits of different nationalities):

There is no such mystery to the Germans (who will go anywhere there's sun), still less to the Italians (who will go anywhere there's a cute ass); as for the French, let's not even go there. Alone among Europeans in the middle- and higher income brackets, the English are notable by their absence from mainstream holiday destinations. Nevertheless, meticulous and systematic research, supported by considerable data makes it possible to map their movements during summer pasturing. They gather in small groups and head for unlikely islands absent from Continental holiday brochures- Malta, Madeira, or, indeed Lanzarote. One there, they duplicate the principal elements of their home environment right there. When asked to explain their choice of destination, they give answers which are evasive and tautological: I came because I came here last year. It is apparent that the Englishman is not motivated by a keen appetite for discovery. Indeed, one may observe that he is not interested in architecture, landscapes, in anything whatsoever. In the early evening, after a short trip to the beach, he is to be found drinking bizarre cocktails. The presence of English at a resort, therefore, is no guide to the intrinsic interest of the destination, its splendor or its possible tourist potential. The Englishman goes to a particular tourist destination purely because he certain that the will meet other Englishmen there. In this, he is diametrically opposed to the Frenchman, so enamored of himself that the mere sight of a compatriot abroad is anathema to him. For this reason, Lanzarote is a destination to be recommended to the French.


It was a very pleasurable short read. I think Houellebecq has moved onto my short list of favorite contemporary writers with Haruki Murakami, Milan Kundera, and Cormac McCarthy.
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
September 26, 2011 – Shelved
September 26, 2011 – Shelved as: contemporary-fiction

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