From an article on Michel Houellebecq.
I like to read these author profiles. I know why I am attracted to them. I am vain and narcissistic. I want to be written about. I’d like to be controversial, preferable to being bland. I’d like to be described as ‘indefatigably provocative’. I don’t understand the depth of fuss over ‘Atomised’.
I’m reminded that I’d like to read him in French, I found parts of ‘Atomised’ grated – having lived and loved in France I feel I have a good sense of the appropriate way of saying certain things. The English translation I read was sprinkled with American expressions that aren’t appropriate for a European book (not that England or the English we speak has a lot to do with Europe).
As I did with film directors I like to figure out how old they were when they first found success; this game is becoming increasingly less encouraging as I age. Whilst some do get their break in the forties they aren’t many: Henry Miller, Oliver Stone … Houellebecq was born in 1958. He could be my brother for Christ’s sake. He is 44, I am 40. Ahhhhhhh!
His first book, ‘Whatever’ was published when he was 36 then. Hmmm. My first broadcast short film? 1996. I was 34. The first time I directed actors? 1990. Blah Blah. Hardly achievements. Nor are the hundreds of training films. I need an audience, I need readers. I need to get my voice, my vision, my world out there.
‘Platform’ is premised on the idea that sexual tourism will finance the third world. It is nonsense, but have sympathy for a novel having a theme like this. If the plots and sub-plots are the grain in the wood then the ‘premise’ is the wood itself, the kind of tree from which it has come. Sex isn’t a new theme at all, it is enduring, it drives ‘mankind’. We are sex driven.
I like this, on whether or not he deliberately sets out to be provocative,’most of the time you are just persuading yourself of things’
And from the reviewer, ‘something must have wound him up enough to write these books’ and, ‘Houellebecq has three subjects on which he speaks pretty effortlessly. These are: childhood, sex and alcohol. Or, as he might say, optimism, disillusion, forgetfulness.’
And Houellebecq’s excuse for drinking?
‘Alcohol is a great palliative. There are many reason to drink. To rest. When you are mentally agitated, it clams you down. When you are shy it helps you to socialise. And it destroys anxiety. It also can give you the impression of being brilliant and being brave.’
I could write ‘Atomised’
I’d call it ‘splat’. Over half he UK population will comprise of people living alone by the year 2010. I cannot think of anything more destructive for society. It is a times like this that I envy Jewish, Catholic, Muslim, Hindu and Sheikh families who are so better able to hold extended families together for the advancement and happiness of family members. ‘Splat’ – like a green welly stamping on a wet cow-pat our family has been flung, in shitty little bits, across the four corners of England and in one instance to the outer edge of Africa.
My experience of sex couldn’t be more different to Houellebecq
XXX but you’re not about to read about (not here leastways).
Where was I?
I couldn’t write of ‘sick sex’ the way Houelbecq does because I’ve never experienced it.
I put a wasp in my mouth
I had a can of Carlsberg open in the garden, It was in the can, the can went to my mouth. I hesitated when the forth of lager in my mouth began to fizz and buzz. It could feel it paddling about in my mouth. So I spat it out. Since then I’ve taken to pouring my lagers into a large coffee mug, helps with nosey neighbours too who may wonder what I am doing drinking lager at 9 in the morning. If wasps bother me now i dip my fingers in my drink, get their attention, let them settle and sip … then ‘wap!’ they are dead.