The Elementary Particles by Michel Houellebecq
January 17, 2010 § Leave a comment
This book came very highly recommended to me. It is the story of two half-brothers in post-1960s France. The brothers share a mother; a free-love, New Age hippie, who abandons both boys early in life as she runs off to join some utopian enclave in California. The brothers are sent to live with their paternal grandparents, and don’t meet until their adult life. One brother grows up obsessed with sex but struggles to find consensual partners, the other is completely devoid of any sort of sexual drive or real human emotion but excels in the field of science and DNA sequencing. Both suffer. The entire book.
Bottom line: this is not an easy read. I can appreciate the points the book is trying to make, but I had trouble getting through the pages and pages of sex clubs and orgies and public masturbation on which this story so heavily relies. I know this was intentional, the story is supposed to be a “raw, bleak, unredemptive, unfliching review of humanity and existence”, and many have described the book as “difficult but necessary.” But with one part philosophy, one part storyline, and eighteen parts crude, graphic sex scenes…it just wasn’t really my cup of genetically modified tea.