Read a few pages of this book before you actually commit to the whole thing: The following link shows another translation of the same book, you can click on the image to see a section from the start of the book: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Against-Grain-Joris-Karl-Huysmans-ebook/dp/B0197HPS7G/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1480427985&sr=8-3 If you really enjoyed this beginning then buy and read the rest of the book, but bear in mind it does not get any more interesting. You will read MANY pages about which colours he likes to paint his house with and close to about 50% of it is about his feelings on religious and latin literature: fairly vague in content but very lengthy about it!
I bought this because I thought the concept sounded interesting and I like a lot of French authors like Balzac, Zola, Flaubert etc, if you're in the same boat as I was then you may find yourself disappointed with this - it's basically a waffling bored rich guy with nothing really to say - The excuse for this is that it is classed as 'decadent' literature and therefore that's ok. Try before you buy, that's all I'm saying.
This is a book for an academic interested in the French decadence writing movement. I know Pete Doherty has written a song with the same title.
For the average person I think you need explanatory notes to accompany this. It seems like James Joyce's Ulysses which is great for academic study although maybe not the kind of thing you'd take on a train or a plane.
Huysmans' novel inspired Wilde's archetypal narcissist Dorian Gray, with its (then) shocking portrayal of a self indulgent, effete aristocrat whose life is little more than a series of pleasure-seeking experiments. This anti-hero, Des Esseintes, was the definitive aesthete, inspiring many Modernist authors with his perpetual ennui. The book itself combines a peculiarly inactive plot with a thorough exploration of the senses, and is essential reading for the Wilde enthusiast or fan of unusual, sparkling fiction. Its only downfall is its tendency towards obscurity, particularly in passages related to ancient Latin literature. Huysman's commentary on early Modernist art and attitudes is fascinating however, which compensates for any dry academic failings.