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Michel Houellebecq’s Platform

Platform’ by Michel Houellebecq Read within 24 hours I’ve been saved by a ‘Book Lite’ (sic) the size of a box of matches and ‘Platform’ by Michel Houellebecq.

The torch has a clip that allows me attach it to the hardback cover of a novel and an extendable arm that allows me to direct the light onto the pages.

Instead of getting out of bed at 5.30 a.m. this morning I read 100 pages of ‘The Platform’, in which Michel has sex in a massage parlour in Paris, then a couple of times in brothels in Thailand.

I like Michel Houellebecq’s honesty, he has a Henry Miller-like disdain for everyone and everything around him, except for ‘pussy pleasure;’ there is a greater sense of narrative with Houellebecq than Miller.

‘Platform’ in particular, compared to ‘Atomised’ has the rhythm of H.G.Wells to it, especially ‘Tono-Bungay’. I want to read both in French, I query some parts of the translation (I was a professional translator of French to English for a period).

I don’t like to deface hardback books, let alone a novel I want to correct the typo or two that appears every 50 pages, an extra letter on ‘there’ making it ‘theree’ or a definitive article where it is not required. I don’t like folding over the tip of a page to bookmark a quote, but slumbered in bed, illuminated by my ‘book lite’ and not wishing to disturb ‘they that are asleep’ by my side, I resign myself to turning a page.

Michel crits the novels he reads while on holiday, he casts off the American best sellers with disdain, he jerks off to a few pages of sex from John Grisham’s ‘The Firm’ then buries this and another novel, like toilet paper on which he has wiped his arse while on the beach. He later alights on an Agatha Christie leant to him by fellow traveller ‘Valerie’; it is ‘The Hollow’.

I like the way he alights on the description of Henrietta, a sculptor, ‘in whom Agatha Christie tried to portray not only the agony of creation (the scene where she destroys a statue just after labouring to finish it because she senses that it is lacking something), but that suffering which is particular to being an artist; that inability to be truly happy or unhappy, to truly feel hatred, despair, ecstasy or love; the sort of aesthetic filter which separates, without the possibility of remission, the artist from the world. The author had put much of herself into her character, and her sincerity was obvious.’

I feel in drawing this conclusion, that Michel Houellebecq is revealing more of himself in his character than usual.

I liked this from Houellebecq: ‘I had an inkling that, more and more, the whole world would come to resemble an airport.’

And this: ‘We remember our lives, Schopenhauer wrote somewhere, as little better than a novel we once read. That’s about right: a little, no more.’

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