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33 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Few flaws, many touches of genius
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,...
Published on 3 April 2006 by Bruno

versus
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Better than Atomised?
Again much relevant comment is already available on Amazon and the leading reviews are reasonably pertinent. But I see nothing very much in Platform to enhance Houellebecq's "Great Writer" status. I fail to see where Anita Brookner - herself a fine and impeccable stylist- finds "brilliance". However, it is a much better book than Atomised (incidently the original title...
Published on 23 Feb 2008 by J. Dance


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33 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Few flaws, many touches of genius, 3 April 2006
By 
Bruno - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Platform (Paperback)
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.
The author's many criticism's of Islam got him into even more hot water here than his justification of sexual tourism, but his interlocking of the two subjects now seems like some kind of bitter genius after 9/11 and Bali. Young muslim men blow themselves up in order to tear apart the limbs and bodies of infidel westerners enjoying the forbidden pleasures of nubile young asian women. Yet as Houellebecq dryly points out, the flesh pots of Thailand are pretty much the closest environment on earth to that of the 72 virgins which those young muslims think will be their reward for killing innocents. Why does man insist on believing in such self-denying esotoric virtues, when thier ultimate reward could be made possible by a simple economic transaction in the here and now? Pleasure will never be made simple, and happiness forever found unattainable in Houellebecq's grim and misanthropic vision of humanity.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Provocative, challenging and intelligent, 23 Jan 2004
This review is from: Platform (Paperback)
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.
The novel cleverly juxtaposes the love story with the semi-pornographic descriptions of sex; it dwells on contrasting civilizations, the exotic East and the stale West, and the complications of the rival contrast between the secular hedonism of the West and the Islam of the East; and it explores, and manages to interrelate within what amounts to an analysis of globalization, the subjects of sex, tourism, the allure of an Eastern paradise, and Western consumer and business values.
Houellebecq, quite rightly, does not provide some neatly wrapped answer to all the questions his novel raises. Instead, it is left to the reader to contemplate the implications of the story, to work at making sense of the contradictions posed, to judge whether the apparent moral vacuum at the heart of the novel is filled. And it is this that makes Platform such a good book: by refusing to patronize its readers and express only what they want to read, it invites its readers to confront and provide their own answers to the provocative and difficult questions posed.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars sex&death, 26 Sep 2003
This review is from: Platform (Paperback)
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Different, 3 Feb 2009
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This review is from: Platform (Paperback)
This book is lewd, strange, sinister, thought provoking, vivid, engaging and most of all: not for your Granny! If watching 'Eyes wide Shot' freaked you out, well then forget about 'Platform'. The plot is saturated with sexual references, sexual tension and sexual acts.

At times I was thinking if these were all removed, a 350 page book would perhaps be reduced to 40! So is there any substance to 'Platform' or is just soft porn with pseudo philosophical babbel?

I thought beneath the recurring sexual references there actually was a deeper and more meaningful story. This was of a man (Michel) trying to make sense of the world, his life and his meaning. Can he do this through lust, a loving relationship, a business challenge?

What's clear from the very beginning of the book is that a cliched holiday, with all it's shallow, stereotypical moments and cringe inducing interactions with fellow tourists certainly won't offer Michel anything he needs or interests him.

From the outset, it's clear he needs some sort of challenge that takes him outside of normality as normality pains him. This pitches him as an interesting character. In fact, one very strong facet of the book is character development. The author does a good job of bringing the reader very close up and personal with all the central characters by detailing very intimate details of their lifes, the sort of stuff only a very close friend would tell you. This makes both the characters and the story engaging.

The sexual saturation is boring at times, but overall the story's strong point besides character development is the subtle posing of some philosophical questions.

The book is certainly not the norm, if you're feeling in the mood for something different and are not easily offended, you might like it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Better than Atomised?, 23 Feb 2008
By 
J. Dance "Konrad Jansma" (Newcastle, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Platform (Paperback)
Again much relevant comment is already available on Amazon and the leading reviews are reasonably pertinent. But I see nothing very much in Platform to enhance Houellebecq's "Great Writer" status. I fail to see where Anita Brookner - herself a fine and impeccable stylist- finds "brilliance". However, it is a much better book than Atomised (incidently the original title translates as Elementary Particles which makes much more sense of the actual content); Houellebecq is perhaps learning the writer's craft. He certainly followed my recommendation and developed his bent for comedy. In its way its quite a funny book. But that way is the way of darkness - it is a comedy in the same way as Dante's Inferno is a comedy! (Ok - I do know that its not really a legitimate comparison but I think folk will see what I'm getting at). The main ostensible subject is "Sex Tourism" - which is interesting, though hardly titillating the way Houellebecq tells it. The book is often billed as controvertial because it is seen as a defence of this activity. But there is, as one would expect given Houellebecq's philosophical antecedents, a deep ambivalence. Most people, I guess, having been informed, amused and having secretly experienced a little "frisson", would reject the whole idea with disgust. It seems at least arguable that this may be the writer's intention. In conclusion I feel this is a book worth reading and, as a result of reading it, I may well go on to read his next one.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not as shocking as Atomised but still very good, 7 Oct 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: Platform (Paperback)
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A lightweight hero for the professional classes?, 4 April 2011
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This review is from: Platform (Paperback)
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, both simply act to bolster the reputation of a pretty poor and shallow novel. It's as if even the author can't be bothered to delve further than the surface veneer of professional ennui of his main character. I hope someone will eventually shout `he's not wearing any clothes!' That it will become clear there is no substance here.

Don't be fooled by comparisons with Camus - even Camus' worst is well ahead of this author's best.

If you want a comfortable read which touches on sex tourism, globalism, S&M, but really has nothing significant to say about any of these, this book will satisfy you. You'll probably enjoy the slight titillation - but it's a bit Mills & Boon touches on de Sade. I would neither recommend nor condemn it (I give it three stars because it's just average), but I can't imagine being enthused with a desire to read more of the author's work.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Platform, a sweet meditation., 8 May 2006
This review is from: Platform (Paperback)
Platform is hard hitting and is very easy to read, it's drive is the artful delivery by Houellebecq of a wonderful acute sense of internal justification (no longer his - it becomes yours) when faced with a decision on how to feel and respond when something tragic has happened. The story of Platform (without giving any too much away) is not exclusively (as sometimes criticised) about a clash of religion, sex, culture - it's a clash of the modern European mind, yet still running to a romantic 'boy meets girl, boy loses girl' tragedy. It is one of the few books I have read in the last ten years that has given me, as a writer, the energy (and a healthy boost of acerbic wit) to write precisely what I feel, uncensored and to the point.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Quite French even though... not quite, 23 Dec 2009
By 
This review is from: Platform (Paperback)
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. Hesitating between various destinations he happens to pick Thailand.

The protagonist is a civil servant without any extraordinary personality traits. So far, he has lead quite an eventless life. But the curious thing with him is that the politically correct indoctrination we all go through has somehow missed him completely. He's the kind of amazing man who feels no guilt whatsoever about his sexuality. So, once in Thailand, he ends up doing what many men end up doing in Thailand, as if that was the most natural thing in the world.

Then he meets a nice woman who is not at all repulsed by the idea of prostitution, and they get the idea of establishing a somewhat different kind of a travel agency. I don't want to give away any more of the plot. I should just mention that it was interesting to see the French author ironising about the international belief about the French people being so sexually liberal.

What I most enjoyed in this book was one minor character's unapologetic masculine attitude. That alone was almost worth the price of the book.

I didn't like the ending at all, even though I admit that from an author's point of view, it makes since. You have to end a story somehow, and why not like this.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars strange book, 10 Aug 2011
This review is from: Platform (Paperback)
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.
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Platform
Platform by Frank Wynne (Translator) (Paperback - 4 Sep 2003)
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