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Platform [Paperback]

Michel Houellebecq , Frank Wynne (Translator)
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
RRP: 8.99
Price: 6.29 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

4 Sep 2003

Michel is a civil-servant at the Ministry of Culture. When his father is murdered, Michel takes a leave of absence to go on a package tour to Thailand. Infuriated by the shallow hypocrisy and mediocrity of his fellow travellers, only the awkward Valerie attracts his attention. Too bashful to pursue her, Michel prefers the uncomplicated pleasures of Thai massage parlours and sex with local women.

Back in Paris, he calls Valerie and they plunge into a passionate affair, which strays into S&M, partner-swapping and sex in public. Michel quits his job, and tries to help Valerie and her boss, Jean-Yves, in their ailing travel business, by offering travel packages based on sex tourism in the third world. When their project comes to fruition and the three return to Thailand, Michel discovers that sex is neither the most consuming nor the most dangerous of human passions...

Frequently Bought Together

Platform + Atomised + The Possibility of an Island
Price For All Three: 19.57

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Product details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; New Ed edition (4 Sep 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099437880
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099437888
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 30,428 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"With Atomised, you could see that Houellebecq was headed for greatness. With Platform he has attained it. The book is a stunning achievement" (Evening Standard)

"Reading Houellebecq is never deflating; it is, rather, a source of constant inspiration and delight. Would that we could produce his like in England" (Observer)

"A brilliant novel" (Anita Brookner)

"Michel Houellebecq has put contemporary French literature back on the map in a way not seen since Camus" (David Sexton Evening Standard)

"There is something new and rare here, a genuinely unsettling wit with a terrible tang of truth" (Sunday Telegraph)

Book Description

'Reading Houellebecq is like being caught up in a tropical storm: you are blown away by the ferocity of his imagination' Observer

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Provocative, challenging and intelligent 23 Jan 2004
Platform is a fine novel. It's readable, it's intelligent and funny, but above all, and like most really good literature, it's challenging, troubling, and puts forward more questions than answers. A strong narrative holds together the many different facets to the novel: love story, pornography, analysis of the travel industry, philosophy, moral inquiry, critique of globalization and Western civilization.
Camus is a clear influence on Houellebecq. Paralleling the death of Meursault's mother in The Outsider, Platform begins with the death of Michel the narrator's father. Michel mirrors Meursault's emotional detachment from the loss. Like Meursault, Michel is a morally detached individual, refusing to conform to the expectations of Western civilization and society, pursuing instead his own path of libertinism. And just as in The Outsider, Michel is caught up in conflicting cultures.
Platform quite deliberately raises troubling authorial questions. Is Michel the narrator simply a mouthpiece for Michel the author's views? It is not an easy question to answer, but one which persists throughout the novel and impacts on the way in which it is read. For Michel the author has courted trouble in France for his disparaging views on Islam, Christianity and Judaism; and Michel the narrator holds various controversial and unsettling opinions, most notably on Islam and on the subject of sex tourism, on which neutrality on the reader's part is not an obvious option.
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32 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Few flaws, many touches of genius 3 April 2006
Houellebecq is a man who breaks taboo's, probably the only major author alive who tackles subjects such as sexual tourism, paedophilia, the alieness of islamic culture, inter-racial sexual attraction, all of which are surely some of the most noteworthy socio-historical phenomonen of the new millenium, yet not the topics that tend to win backslapping literary awards, especially not when tackled with the distinctive Houellebecqian pens of political incorrectness and semi-pornography.
Yet the world needs such authors more than it needs booker prize winners, and here is another work of art we can turn to if we wish to understand, or at least frame the debate, on some of the great issues and tensions of the age.
Through means of a story that revolves mainly around the far eastern sex trade, Houellebecq asks questions about the point of modern western civlisation, a civilisation which seems to have only hedonistic pleasure and 'individuality' remaining as values. I don't think Houellebecq is making a damning indictment of the sins of the flesh here ( you can't read some of his passages or anything about his private life to believe that) but rather expressing a somewhat gloomy Schopenhauerian kind of view that the human animal is just not meant to be happy and contented, that a fat and bloated west will not be able to begin a sustainable phase of contented pleasure seeking because nature just doesn't do happiness as an end in itself. Nature merely serves us short-term hedonistic tricks that might reward its own darwinian purposes, but not the ultimate contentment of the human being.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars sex&death 26 Sep 2003
So some people loathe him. Some people think he's racist and sexist. Some people say he moved to Ireland due to the hatred he has encountered from the content of his novels. Well stuff those some people.
Platform is funny and heartbreaking, in the driest ways possible. It made me feel the way Lolita made me feel the first time I read it, but with language reminiscent of Camus (at least in this translation anyway).
I don't really know how to write reviews, but this novel seems to speak with such a personal tongue, almost like a niggling voice in your own head that tells you not to trust your best friend, that I figured I might as well tell any potential readers; don't be potential, just read the thing.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
This book does not have the visceral power to shock and move of Atomised had there is no sign that the author intended it to. It is a clinical analysis of what has gone wrong with our personal relationships in the West and, from that point of view, deeply sad. The narrative's internal logic draws the reader in so that, by the time the narrator's, and reader's world, is shattered at the end of the book it comes as a shock to remember that the moral structure of the narrator's life would be repugnant to a religious fundamentalist of any hue. I wonder, in fact, if this book is his comment on September 11th, or, more generally, the clash of civilisations, as Huntingdon termed it. More specifically, perhaps we are all forgetting the Bali bombing in which Muslim fundamentalists targetted a symbol of the sort of lifestyle that H describes, in a similar location to the Thailand of the book.
Anyone who has friends between the ages of thirty and fifty will surely recognise the predicament of the characters in the book with regard to personal and sexual relationships. H also uses sexuality as a metaphor for pleasure and the pursuit of happiness in general in a world where evrything has been given an economic value and been marketed accordingly.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Poorly-written and nauseatingly cynical dick-lit
'Platform' lacks any subtlety or sensuality; the sex is not erotic but coldly pornographic, the writing style is crude, and the content is relentlessly, depressingly cynical. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Hatters
4.0 out of 5 stars The strangest love story I have ever Read
This novel was my first glimpse into Houellebecq's world. In it he presents a vivid portrait of the moral decline that has taken hold in western civilization. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Laszlo Kovacs
5.0 out of 5 stars sex and tourism
Those familiar with Houellebuecq's ouevre will not find something that different from his other offerings, being the story of a middle-aged loner who finds love and sex and a kind... Read more
Published 17 months ago by Mr. Robert Marsland
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book.
You don't read Houellebecq to be cheered and uplifted, but reading him really makes you think, and he holds a magnifying glass to modern society like few other writers. Read more
Published 19 months ago by J. Craven
5.0 out of 5 stars Strong themed book that gets you thinking
Michel is a complicated character. Obsessed with thinking about the sexual act, takes a vacation as part of his work to Thailand where he indulges in the debauchary offered in the... Read more
Published on 11 Aug 2012 by Dean Carroll
3.0 out of 5 stars 'Bloke lit" - not chick lit.
An absorbing read - but essentially male 'chick lit.' Romance, relationships, sex (from a very male perspective), exotic locations, then corporate board room 'glamour' in place of... Read more
Published on 25 Mar 2012 by travelergrounded
5.0 out of 5 stars The best around today
Platform is an excellent, highly relevant book for a world ruled by hyper capitalism. Houellebecq has a special talent for pulling together the various strands of life, from the... Read more
Published on 10 Mar 2012 by Songbird
3.0 out of 5 stars strange book
This book seems callous and superficial at first, but it gradually becomes more human and thoughtful. It is not really a deep book but it makes you think.
Published on 10 Aug 2011 by Gabrielle
3.0 out of 5 stars A lightweight hero for the professional classes?
The tale of the emperor's new clothes should be the starting point for anyone reading this book. Those who raise their voices of protest against the author, or see him as a hero,... Read more
Published on 4 April 2011 by David Hall
4.0 out of 5 stars Quite French even though... not quite
This novel is about a middle-aged Frenchman who inherits a large amount of money. He doesn't really have a clue what to do and decides to take an overseas trip. Read more
Published on 23 Dec 2009 by Printul Noptilor
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