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Lanzarote
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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 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..
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TOP 1000 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 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.
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on 9 July 2004
Mixed reviews for the hardback version of this book, mostly regarding its length. I enjoyed it immensely, but then, I never really got into 'Atomised', much preferring 'Platform'.
OK, 'Lanzarote' is a short (very short) story, in which nothing much happens. Whereas it was said of Beckett's greatest play 'nothing happens... twice', it could be argued that in 'Lanzarote' we don't even get double the nothingness. So what do we get?
A taut, well-written, evocative, erotic, snapshot of a brief moment in time. Like the photographs which accompany the novella, the text itself - the story - is one frame abstracted from a complete roll. Where the rest of that roll is, who knows? That isn't important.
Houellebecq speaks as he finds; unlike those British / American (there really isn't much difference these days - they're all racing for the prize) who dare not speak their minds, MH really doesn't seem to care. And that is why his fiction glows so brightly: it has the rare quality of honestly, and of respect.
Sometimes his characters are a little predictable insofar as we have preconceived ideas of national characteristics, but don't all authors and film-makers prey on this? Let's face it, the world is a small place, but 6 billion is an awful lot of people. We can't all be the same, have the same belief systems, despite BushBlair's best efforts.
But this takes us off the point really. The bottom line is that Houellebecq is a lighthouse in the middle of a dull grey sea (metaphorically speaking, obviously - though who knows what he looks like, his picture's not on the cover for whatever reason he sees fit. This book is tiny, nothing much happens, the characters are pretty odious, and it doesn't do much for Lanzarote's tourism business, but the book is funny (as I was pleased one hardback reviewer here noticed), readable, clever, original, and thought-provoking. I liked it a lot, and I look forward to the next one already. Who knows, I might even have a stab at 'Atomised' again.
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on 16 December 2009
One or two interesting ideas and comments on the times, as always with Houellebecq, though not as well-developed as in 'Atomised' and 'Platform'. Not much else apart from the usual doses of gratuitous sex, rants against religion, especially Islam, and Belgium (for some reason).
I got the impression he couldn't be bothered putting much effort into this book. Just make a quick buck. Needless to say it wouldn't have been published if he wasn't already famous, or infamous. I suggest you read 'Platform' first, if you want the best of Houellebecq.
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on 20 November 2004
I have given this 'pamphlet' one star because reading Houellebecq at this level is still better than reading most things. Anyone who read Atomised and Platform will feel utterly betrayed by this half hearted attempt, and anyone who hasn't read Houellebecq before would be better advised to go for those titles - they are superb.
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on 15 August 2013
But I was slightly dissapointed with Lanzarote. Its a very short book, which I don't mind at all, as endless boring description gets on my wick. But it may be too short to have any real relevance, or maybe it just didn't resonate, or I just don't get it.

Lanzarote is worth a visit, especially in winter, but take something else to read, Atomised, or Whatever are better books in my opinion.
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on 11 October 2012
This is very short but not nearly short enough. The 'novel' is a paper-thin pastiche of Houellebecq's earlier sex-tourism tales. As usual, Houellebecq hints at a spurious and vague underlying nihilism, to inject some intellectual credibility. However, the story and characters are so weak and poorly realised that the work is a dismal failure, lacking the vim and wit of his better works such as Atomised.
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on 29 September 2003
I like this book. I laughed out loud a few times, which is the highest praise I can offer any author. His glacial, pitiless, caustic observations don't sit up and beg to be funny like the so-called humouur of a lot of authors. He has an effortless way of moving things along without unnecessary detail, which perhaps makes the brevity of the book more apparent. Yes I would have liked more, but in a sense I think there probably wasn't much more to be said. Platform and Atomised got a bit bogged down in scientific minutai I felt; a bit like reading encylopoedias at times. Maybe this tipped the scales in the other direction and was a bit like reading graffiti on a travel brochure. Who cares. Ultimately it's just nice to feel the pin pricking our po-faced post-modern routines every now and then.
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