GenX Frogs

Sounds like a band or something, doesn’t it? Okay. Maybe not. Doesn’t matter. That’s not what I was going f or. So nah.

I’m using frogs as a cheeky endearment for the French not a pejorative. That’s my story and I’m sticking too it.

Anyhoo….

I’m not sure if the French buy into the whole Generation X thing (my understanding is that it’s got it’s Kool Aide drinkers across the channel in England) but if they do then Michel Houellebecq is one of their GenX authors. Born in 1958 he doesn’t fall into the age-range for Generation X, but the themes of his book definitely apply.

Just finished reading his novel, Platform.

And I fucking loved it. And not just because of the cover either, although I am rather fond of it – hubba hubba. I’m reading the hardcover edition and the cover is nothing like the paperback. But we’re not judging a book by it’s cover here. Or are we…..?

Briefly, the story is about a 40 year-old disaffected, cynical French guy whose father has just died. The mother doesn’t really figure in; I can’t even recall in what context the mother is even mentioned. Michel Renault, the main character and narrator, uses some of the money he inherits from his father to go on a vacation, a sex tourism deal — he eagerly and without shame frequents prostitutes. He does meat a girl, Valerie, but nothing happens until they meet up again back in France. Then they carry on a very passionate, lusty affair. In addition to writing about the taboo of sex tourism, Houllebecq’s narrator is none to kind to Arabs/Muslims, toward which his attitude is provacative, derogatory, even caustic and bigotted. My understanding is that MH has been hauled into court for some of the shit he’s written. One can understand why, but that does not take away from the ferocity of the prose and imagination (I scammed that phrasing from a blurb on the back of the book; but it’s true so it’s cool). He sort of reminds me of Brett Easton Ellis, but MH is a much better stylist.

No doubt this novel will not suit the typical American reader. They’re not going to like what they read, especially the derisive attitude toward Western culture, even particularly American at times, though mostly I think the narrator is referring to French culture, which is still Western.

In the end, MH’s fiction version of himself (what othe conclusion can one draw?), having dared to open himself up enough to receive pleasure from a woman lover moves from simply being apathetic to being incredibly bitter. And in the end, like in Douglas Coupland’s, Generation X, the  main character ditches his Western digs for some place more exoctic but not with any sense of hope or new beginning but simply to live out his days, and to be forgotten, forgotten quickly.

Psst. Did I mention that it has some of the best sex scenes I’ve read — sexy, erotic, filthy and lusty all at once!

Strange aside: I tried to read this novel some years ago, after reading the author’s previous novel, The Elementary Particles, but for whatever reason could not…penetrate it, retain much of anything about it. That was before I got on my meds and therapy. Now, I realize just how foggy my head was, and that was why this novel would not click for me. But now, well, it’s crystal clear. I picked it up again and had to plow right through it. Now I’m going back to TEP because I can’t recall what that book was about either, only that on some vague level I liked it.

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