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The Possibility of an Island (Vintage International) Paperback – May 8, 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
Like the New Age camp of The Elementary Particles and the Thai sex tourist hotels of Platform, Houellebecq's latest novel has a self-enclosed setting: the shifting sites at which the Elohimites, a UFO/cloning cult, hold their seminars. Daniel, a shock jock famous for such slogans as "We prefer the Palestinian orgy sluts," narrates what turns out to be his life story. Early on, Daniel's partner, Isabel, leaves him after her breasts begin to droop and she gains some pounds. Then Daniel, following a catastrophic love affair with nubile Spaniard Esther, gets interested in the Elohim, gets close to the "prophet" and witnesses an event that catapults the group into the center of world history. Daniel's part in this converges with his jealousy of Esther. Meanwhile, the West is going to hell in a handbasket, and the Elohim idea of substituting cloning and suicide for reproduction and old age is catching on. Everything ends frighteningly (unless you like clones) and satisfactorily (if you take a cynical enough view). Houellebecq has never written better, yet this novel seems stuck in the groove—clunky mini-essays, gonzo porn digressions—first etched by his earlier novels. 50,000 announced first printing. (May 26)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Gloom suffuses the works of celebrated French novelist Houellebecq (Platform, 2003). His latest offering features 40-year-old Daniel, a caustic comedian and filmmaker whose celebrity status earns him access to Elohim, a cult of sexually promiscuous health fanatics who achieve immortality through cloning. The narrative alternates between the original Daniel (plagued by a succession of failed love affairs, with affection remaining only for his Welsh corgi) and his subsequent "neohuman" incarnations, virtually devoid of humanity and emotion. Moments of contentment are rare for Houellebecq, who seems to revel in a sort of vulgar navel gazing, replete with horrifying images (one particularly distressing scenario depicts explosions of infant skulls). Joyless Daniel even despises laughter, "that sudden and violent distortion of the features that deforms the human face and strips it instantly of all dignity." Frequently labeled by critics as a malcontent and misogynist, Houellebecq seems to revere canines, with their capacity for devotion and unconditional love. It's a strange bit of sentimentality from a man who seems, by all accounts, heartless. Allison Block
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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This book has a number of high marks. Houellebecq isn't thought of as a sci-fi writer, but his science fiction scenarios have a quiet elegance to them, a sort of foreboding and sense of inevitability. In this sense, he matches and exceeds traditional science fiction writers. In a way, I wonder if his return to form here has something to do with his subject matter. Houellebecq is, of course, brilliant in Platform, but without the aspirations inherent in writing scifi, it could be that he surrendered to a smallness in thinking.
Radikal Hip Hop... Houellebecq (this is the second time I've written Celine in place of his name, despite that their writing is not similar in the least) has a brutal mind for the kitsch. In fact, there's a hilarious line on kitsch and its relation to art: "everything is kitsch, if you like. music as a whole is kitsch; art is kitsch; literature itself is kitsch. any emotion is kitsch, practically by definition; but any reflection also, and even in a sense any action, the only thing that is not absolutely kitsch is nothingness." It's great to see that Houellebecq isn't afraid of developing what is essentially a hipster's aesthetic. Funny and a little unnerving at the same time - could it be that the hipsters have had it right all along?
This book is simultaneously more and less allusive than Houellebecq's previous work. Where there would be a two page essay in Elementary particles, there is a paragraph or two here. On the other hand, Houellebecq now seems to have no problem casually namedropping Celine, Rochefoucauld, Rochelle, and so on. This signals, I think, an efficiency in thinking and more of a thought for form - after all, by this point Houellebecq has enough credibility that his mentioning "Rochefoucauld" should be enough for the dedicated reader to look the man up for himself. I agree - Good job!
Looking forward to reading The Map and the Territory. Bravo, Houellebecq. By the way, there is a picture of him that was published recently where he looks exactly like Celine - it's bizarre
hey, who says the french are boring (i don't) and should be forgiving for liking jerry lewis? seriously, who said that?
this book will either disturb or inspire you.
This is a novelist who makes a point of how alienated and illusion free he is. It's a pose alright but it is also true ,I think. Houellebecq doesn't want to hear left wing BS, right wing BS.He doesn't want to be lectured on sensitivity.He doesn't feel like pretending everything will be just fine as long as the enlightened agree on how things are supposed to be and can cram it down everyone's throat.
So what goes on here? Daniel keeps going on and on .He dies and is cloned over and over again as is his dog.He is eternal recurrence in action and this reminds me of why I can't accept Nietzsche s' vision- time must have a stop!It must not be repeated, it is too painful.Hamlets' fear is that there will be no rest upon death .Rather new and horrible dreams will recur endlessly.I would say this is Houellebecqs' vision of shiny happy endless people, who still end.In Houellebecq, we have become so distanced, alienated from any essence, we have become merely plastic objects who should be put out of our misery.