I’ve been meaning to read some of Houellebecq’s work (in translation, of course – I went to public schools, after all) for quite some time. I plan to read more of it.
This book is about an artist who is quite successful. At some point, the artist meets and connects with Michel Houellebecq, which is interesting and it allows Houellebecq to portray himself in the novel.
Once you get about two thirds of the way through the book, Houellebecq is brutally murdered (with emphasis on the “brutally”). The rest of the book deals with the murder investigation.
His portrayal of France accords well with the one I’ve gotten from French people who are being particularly honest. Basically, they’re not optimistic. Without tourism, they’d be screwed, and you can only coast for so long on tourism. Houellebecq criticizes vagrants, sluts (his word), the fact that his country is being invaded by eastern Europeans, the huge number of Asian tourists, the smoking ban, assisted suicide, etc. He seems preoccupied with the death of any sense of French-ness.
Anyway, that’s all the literary criticism I’ve got for the day. The book is worth reading for only Houellebecq’s descriptions of himself, which were hilarious.