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Platform Paperback

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (July 13, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400030269
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400030262
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.2 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (61 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #155,825 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

The controversial French author of The Elementary Particles (2000) turns in another unremittingly bleak novel. In addition to amplifying his views on the decadence of Western civilization, Houellebecq displays an absolutely chilling prescience in his depiction of a violent Muslim sect. Misanthropic, sexually frustrated bureaucrat Michel embarks on a "Thai Tropic" package tour, amusing himself with snide commentary on his fellow vacationers and frequent visits to sex clubs. Although he is attracted to business executive Valerie, he has trouble engaging her in small talk. However, when they return to Paris, their relationship quickly turns passionate as they explore sadomasochism and public sex. Michel talks Valerie and her business partner into marketing sex tours to the Third World, selling them on his theory that Westerners have lost touch with their own sexuality. But when they decide to sample one of their own tours, their resort becomes a flashpoint for Islamic hatred. Houellebecq is unrelenting as he meticulously constructs a world that mirrors his own cold vision and that cuts uncomfortably close to the bone. Joanne Wilkinson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


“A terrific writer, funny and prophetic . . . feverishly alive to the world around him.” – The New York Times Book Review

“Calculated to poke, prod, engorge, enrage and amuse. . . . It’s dangerous in the way that literature is meant to be dangerous—that is, it awakens neglected sensibilities.”—The New York Observer

“Houellebecq’s writing has a raw, disquieting brilliance. . . .It’s ‘genius.’”—The Washington Post

“Brilliant, charming, puzzling, annoying and sometimes downright repulsive.” —The Denver Post

“Full, acidic, self-flagellating . . . [Platform has] earned Mr. Houellebecq the status of conversation piece, agent provocateur and savage messiah.” —The New York Times

“Remarkable . . . hilarious. . . . [Houellebecq] writes from the soul of a despairing, acutely lucid bureaucrat on Viagra.” —Los Angeles Times Book Review

“Scaldingly honest . . . [Platform] takes no prisoners as to prevailing terms of politically correct or any-other-way-correct discourse. . . . It frequently uses jarring juxtaposition to dislocate us from complacencies, received wisdoms or even moderate comfort. . . . The analysis is broad and extremely knowledgeable . . . [with] quirky and sometimes horrific observations on everything from ecology to airport gift shops to incest. . . . Bracing.” —St. Louis Post-Dispatch

“The most potentially weighty French novelist to emerge since Tournier. . . . The trajectory of Houellebecq’s world view will be worth following.” —The New Yorker

“An outstandingly powerful and relevant novel about sex, death, and Islam.” —Hanif Kureishi

“Astute, graceful, sexually preoccupied, occasionally alarming. . . . Eviscerat[es] the cultural moment.” —The Baltimore Sun

“The characters in Platform are detestable. . . . And the hatred [Michel] expresses . . . is loathsome. . . . But what is wrong with this? Why should literature not be as cruel as life itself? . . . This book offers us an ‘I’ we can relate to–hate, love, fear–without being pointedly obstructed by the author’s tormented cosmology. . . . Moving.” —San Francisco Chronicle

“Brilliant. . . . Reads like a shot. . . . The excitement of Platform is the force with which Houellebecq says the unsayable, his determination to cut through moral equivocation.” —Salon

“[A] dirty novel of ideas. . . . Houellebecq’s sex scenes are hot and bountiful.” —Entertainment Weekly

“An extraordinary blend of pornography, satire and diatribe . . . Houellebecq is an undeniably gifted writer–I found myself reading on, even when the impulse to throw the book across the room grew strong.” —Charles Matthews, San Jose Mercury News

“Odd, subversive entertainment.” —The Boston Globe

“What’s at stake is the desacralizing of sex, its final leap into the realm of pure commodity, the role of implacable consumption in cultural imperialism. . . . It’s not the kind of book you only read once.” —The Village Voice

“Cynical and anomic . . . literary and complex.” –The Atlantic Monthly

“Shockingly vile and shockingly banal, written with an ear toward pissing off just about everyone. . . . Houellebecq’s novel is tough to put down no matter how much you’d like to. . . . Like good porn it’s increasingly difficult to draw your eyes away as it oozes toward climax.” —Austin Chronicle

“A work of considerable imagination and wit. Even when the reader is most repelled, he may want to view the writer with grudging admiration. . . . [Michel Renault’s rants] are very funny, and . . . very true.” —The Sunday Star-Ledger (Newark, NJ)

Platform cuts precisely to the core of every imaginable big-picture problem facing the world. . . . Houellebecq knows how to get a rise out of his readers. . . . His prejudices are serious, and current.” —American Book Review

“Houellebecq writes with an honesty and an anomic conviction that raises his novels, beyond any single troubling moment, toward genius.” —Toronto Globe and Mail

“The most important book of the year–and perhaps of the century thus far. . . . Dazzling and prescient. . .Houellebecq [is] one of the finest novelists of ideas alive.” —Evening Standard (London)

“Brilliant. . .A thrilling read, close to Swift’s A Modest Proposal in its impact.” —Daily Telegraph (London)

“Extraordinarily good. . . Houellebecq is one of the few novelists working in any language who properly understands the tensions of the present age. He is also utterly fearless in articulating this.” —New Statesman

“Houellebecq writes with humor as sharp as a razor’s edge. There is bravery and even bravado in [his] prose. He alone among contemporary writers is prepared to do what the likes of Orwell and Huxley did and put up a mirror to our past and project its reflection on the future.” —Financial Times (London)

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Customer Reviews

I found this book dull.
Andrew Hollins
This was one of most enjoyable books I have ever read, I plowed through it in just over a day last week; I simply couldn't put it down.
In the end it didn't really lead anywhere but to my opinion that the author is not really a very good one.
Bjorn Vilhjalmsson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Bookreporter on July 25, 2003
Format: Hardcover
A small conceit of the English translation of Michel Houellebecq's PLATFORM is that certain words and phrases the author originally used in English are boldfaced, presumably so that readers will know that they carried a sort of extra Anglo-Saxon punch in the original text. However, the boldfaced words also recall the talent of Frank Wynne, Houellebecq's translator. I mention these words because I otherwise might not have remembered that I was reading a translated text, so clearly and accurately has Wynne rendered the author's unmistakable, inimitable voice.
With that said, this is not a voice all readers will appreciate. Protagonist and first-person narrator Michel Renault lives a small, sour existence as a middle-aged, middle-management civil servant. His Paris contains no romance and less contentment, and so he travels --- but his coldly assessing eye hardly allows him to enjoy his journeys or his arrivals. Sex in a variety of forms preoccupies him, and it is through sexual experiences that he seems to at least feel alive. While the women on his tour mainly disgust him (the young and nubile he deems "sluts"; the older and more aware he derides in various ways), women whom he can pay for sex receive the small bits of appreciation he can muster.
Still, it is a fellow tour group member, Valérie, with whom Michel connects when back in Paris. Michel, whose barely restrained anger towards his recently dead father once prevented him from pairing off with anyone besides his own hand, finds Valérie's combination of submissive generosity and high-paying job as a tourism executive irresistible. Their relationship brings him so much contentment that his boss comments that he seems happy.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Simon on January 3, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This was one of most enjoyable books I have ever read, I plowed through it in just over a day last week; I simply couldn't put it down. Sitting on a flight reading Platform, I kept laughing out loud and interrupting my girlfriend, obliging her to read passages which were so good I just had to share them with someone. I'm not going to pretend to be able to shed too much light on the story's deeper meanings - if there are any - I would just say that Platform is a shocking and thoroughly entertaining look at the world through the eyes of a complete cynic and utter dead beat. Kind of like the movie Train Spotting, only without much of the feel-good factor. You probably won't enjoy this book if you are very sensitive or are easily prone to believing the worst about people and the world - if these are character traits of yours, this book will just depress you; better to leave it alone. Same thing if you're not comfortable with graphic sexual content. I will definitely be reading Mr. H's other books.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Matko Vladanovic on November 26, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Those of you who are interested in European discourse will remember the crusade on author of this book two years ago, which culminated in whole dossier published in Finkelkraut's European Messenger in which leading pens of Euro culture raised their voices trying to intelectually subdue this book and statements presented in it.

Inraged cries of every religious community out there, from islam to christianity ensured the succes to this book.

We are witnesses of methods of mass media so one should always look with scepticism too all kind of fusses that are raised towards todays literature. But this book really deserved it. And that, believe it or not is a good thing to literature.

Ever since the begining of time, writer was supposed to shock community, from Boccacio's Decameron to Flaubert's Madame Bovary. Sluggishnes of thought and slowness of mind that dominated Europe are finaly broken with this book.

Every concept out there is driven trough, you may almost call it Occham's razor, deconstructig society in general, not willing to admit any kind of supremacy to culture or historicism author tries to present the new world which even in today's democracy (whatever that means) stands out as twisted and pervert....At least to majority of people.

Read this book... It is a begginig of a new epoch....
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 21, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Michel Houllebecq's Platform is a provocative, memorable and ambitious work that is absolutely cutting and acerbic in its tone and content. The lead protagonist is so beautifully drawn, and such a well-rounded, multi-dimensional character that the reader is just left reeling in awe at Houllebecq's skill in creating him. Michel, disaffected, detached and very cynical - eking out an existence of prepackaged pleasure on TV dinners, hollow friendships and porn - goes on a package tour of Thailand where he meets Valerie, a fellow, sexually free French girl. Both are sexually rapacious and predatory, so back in France they hook up, and together with her boss Jean Yves, they devise a scheme to develop a network of "sex Tourism" resorts to save their ailing travel company.
As the novel progresses Houllebecq charts Michel's growth, sexual responsiveness and "humanization" with a fierce awareness. This is an astute character study, where we witness a forty year old, lonely, and somewhat raffish individual being reborn and, in effect, being "humanized." Michel himself admits that his life with Valerie has radically changed him and that he is absolutely blessed and he feels fortunate at having been given a "second chance" at his age. The final part of this novel is absolutely shocking in its content, as Michel and Valerie suffer the effects of a devastating Islamic terrorist attack on their resort. In graphic detail the attack mirrors in many ways the recent Bali bombing, which is also kind of interesting.
This book isn't for everyone; some of the moralists may be put off by the startling and raw sexuality, but I think that the book is raising some serious questions about the way the West views sex, and also the way that sexuality has become a marketable, economic commodity.
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