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on 13 April 2018
Very interesting but sooo short- what a pity!
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on 27 September 2017
Provocative musings about the new millennium by a deeply cynical but by no means depressed author, writing about (his preparations for) his weeklong winter holiday on the island of Lanzarote, which in 1730-31 was the scene of a massive geological catastrophe. Throughout, he rails against shortcomings of late 20th century France: its organization of mass tourism, its ‘talking heads’ on TV, its low-brow mass media.
MH soon makes the acquaintance of bisexual Pam and Barbara from Germany and depressed policeman Rudi from Luxemburg, working in Brussels, which he (Rudi) describes as crime-ridden and worse. The foursome rents a car and tours the island to check out its two or three tourist attractions, its Mars- or moonscape largely devoid of natural flora and fauna, and its beaches. There, MH or his alter ego, communes with his lady friends in a way Rudi has sworn off since his Moroccan wife and two small daughters left him, returned to her place of birth, inspired by Islam.
Back in 2000 MH was sceptical about two EU hopes for the new millennium: closer union and coping with Islam as a faith and force. His harping on supposed national characteristics of European holidaymakers is funny, but since then the Euro has been created (and doing well despite several crises) and several EU enlargements (some questionable) have taken place. [Only the UK--whose tourists only book Little Britain destinations cf.MH--voted itself out of the EU, always been a nuisance and Fremdkörper, driving on the wrong side of the road, its un-EU High Streets lined with payday lenders, antiques emporia and betting shops; AJK].
Re Islam, MH states emphatically that he has no grudge against Arabs, only with Islam (esp. its virulent and destructive manifestations as presaged/described in one of his novels, notably on soft tourist targets). And he was spot on in that respect.
Otherwise, a brief (90 pp) personal manifesto, superbly written from a nihilistic and opportunistic worldview anno 2000, crowned by an apocalyptic description of how fire and water, tectonic energy, volcanic explosions, emissions of poisonous gasses destroyed what was, then created an unlikely rainless tourist resort..
One person found this helpful
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 12 September 2017
At 80 odd small pages long, this would be lucky to qualify as a novella. In some ways this reads like a heavily watered down version of the excellent “Atomised”. This gets off to such a strong and promising start, fizzing with Houellebecq’s dark excellence, but then something bizarre happens around the second half?...It’s almost like the author had died and so they had to get someone in at the last minute to finish off the rest of it. It just descends into a lazy, half- hearted ending, as holes start to appear and you feel your heart sink as you see the pages run out, leaving you wondering what happened?...

Yes this is clearly flawed and doesn’t seem finished and it probably wouldn’t have got published if it hadn’t been written by an established author, but it does have all of his usual themes of sex, religion and general angst. It’s a shame because Houellebecq is a great writer and this short story/novella does not do him justice at all. I would still say that I enjoyed most of this and it is a worthwhile read, but it does read like it has been rushed and unfinished.

On a brighter note, I did love this quote, “It’s not even a country, more an assortment of dummy companies scattered over parkland, nothing but PO boxes for companies with a taste for tax evasion.” This remains the funniest description I have read of Luxembourg.
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on 9 June 2017
Thought it was rubbish apart from interesting information about volcanic activity in 1700's
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on 13 November 2016
Houellebecq is a master.
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on 29 September 2016
Little more than a long short story, we are in typical Houellebecq territory. It is the end of the 20th Century and the unnamed narrator books an all-inclusive package holiday to Lanzarote, almost on a whim, in January 2000. There our hero meets a lugubrious Belgian, and has a fantasy-like sex with two German lesbians. Rudi, the Belgian, is depressed by the loss of his wife and daughters and joins a weird sect that sexually abuses children. The narrator wonders why he bothered with all the trouble of going overseas to the barren but beautiful landscape of the volcanic island, and returns to a wintry Paris. And that’s it – except that it is written in Houellebecq’s wonderful prose, and with his by-now customary coruscating wit and irony.
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on 14 February 2015
This really isn't a book review, because they have already been written by professional book reviewers, but as a purely personal observation I think this is dreadful, over-hyped rubbish. I bought the book after the Charlie Hebdo affair to see what people were talking about but I wish I hadn't bothered.
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on 23 January 2015
A good intro to Houllebecq. Very short novel
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on 21 January 2015
Short and sweet
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on 26 April 2014
After reading Atomised, Platform, The possibility of an Island and most recently the Map and the Territory, I thought i'd delve into Lanzarote. The length did intrigue me as I often find in his works, an exposition is steady and built up over hundreds of pages, but this novelette is classic Houellebecq. The concept seems to be an amalgamation of concepts which are displayed in greater detail in his later novels; the theme of holiday resorts is apparent throughout and the satire created in these sections made me laugh. The dysphemistic tone is reoccurring and other themes such as religion and mortality were directly tackled. I like the work of Houellebecq and it's obvious nihilism is his forte, but sometimes these views seem excessive and as if they're being coerced onto the reader. I enjoyed the character of police officer Rudi and I think what's best about him is the imminent decline, subtly foreshadowed throughout. It felt just like a bit on the side, but it was a good read and managed to perserve depth, though the length restricted this to some extent. I ordered a second hand hardcover copy for £2..81 (including P&P) and from what I can tell this is a new copy; no signs of wear at all so I am elated with the condition of the book.
2 people found this helpful
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