Michel Houellebecq's The Elementary Particles follows these brothers through the latter half of the 20th century. Bruno and Michel are buffeted by history, vessels of disappointment and desire rocked by the ocean of time. Shuttled away to a boarding school where he's sexually abused by other boys, Bruno grows up full of twisted sexual longings and a contempt for aging women so palpable that at times it's stomach-churning. At a commune in the country, Bruno takes stock:
The women were intolerable at breakfast, but by cocktail hour the mystical tarts were hopelessly vying with younger women once again. Death is the great leveler. On Wednesday afternoon he met Catherine, a fifty-year-old who had been a feminist of the old school. She was tanned, with dark curly hair; she must have been very attractive when she was twenty. Her breasts were still in good shape, he thought when he saw her by the pool, but she had a fat ass.Michel doesn't hate women; he doesn't even notice them. Instead of leering at bodies by the pool, he stares at particles in microscopes. He wins prizes for his experiments, but never experiences the rush of life. For both men, the damage has been done by history, by mother, before the story begins. What interests Houellebecq are the permutations and recapitulations of damage--the way the particles of the self can never be completely reconstituted. --Emily White --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Houellebecq approaches our malaise from the standpoints of philosophy, biology, physics, cultural critique, personal history and sexual pathology. Read morePublished on Oct. 25 2009 by T. McDonell
This work caught my attention for numerous reasons. It is a contemporary novel addressing the various malaises of modernity, and at first glance seemed like an interesting... Read morePublished on July 30 2005 by Anthropology Professor
Consider classical french prose, from Corneille, Proust, Camus, Sartre, Racine...consider then clasical political thought of French, from Rousseau to Derrida and Lacan... Read morePublished on May 9 2004 by Matko Vladanovic
Every now and then, a novel comes along that reminds us that the novel does not have to be the genteel commodity that dominates bookstore shelves--sold like Martha Steward's towels... Read morePublished on April 26 2004
but also an engrossing, deft, (and most-importantly) WELL-WRITTEN book! The way Michel can slide so easily from character description to his sundry ruminations on humanity- he... Read morePublished on April 10 2004 by mandy knowles
In this anything but escapist post-modern novel a dark view of the human condition reigns supreme (and is often supremely funny). Read morePublished on March 6 2004 by "owlorchard"
This is truly a spectacular book. As with some other reviewer, I found the book "un-put-down-able". Read morePublished on Jan. 10 2004 by V. Nagaswamy
Michel Houellebeqc's highly-praised novel "The Elementary Particles" was a big disappointment to me. Pardon moi, but I have never understood the typical French author. Read morePublished on Oct. 5 2003 by Richard Huhtanen