1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
The title is very apt,
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This review is from: Whatever (Paperback)
A jaded computer programmer is given the task of taking the computer program on the road and introducing it to various offices around France, training the workers in each office how to use the program. He writes short stories featuring talking animals. His travelling companion is a desperate and physically repulsive man. Along the way the narrator tells us how repulsive we all are, how pathetic love is, how sad and disgusting everything is, and blah blah blah.
I really like Houellebecq's work usually, "Platform" is one of the best novels I've read in the last 10 years and his brilliant essay on HP Lovecraft made me go back to the pulpy hack writer and read his stories again. But he fails to entice in this, his first novel.
It's not that it's unfailingly negative about the future and of society as it is today because that's what I enjoyed most from his writings and is a key theme in all his work. It's that this bile is the sole reason for this book. At least in previous books there's an attempt at a story, characterisation, etc. Here we just get a man complaining about the modern world. His colleague dies, he falls into a depression, he doesn't care. I get it, Houellebecq's tired of the niceties of existence and is looking for something more vibrant, something to wake him up out of his stupor. It's just a shame he couldn't articulate it into a more interesting book.
If this is your first encounter with the angry Frenchie I heartily suggest "Platform" instead of this and you'll see why he's so popular. "Whatever" is a bit dull and a bit dated. Whatever.