#310 Platform

Again I’ve had to check my library history but this puts me up to speed as of two weeks ago when I went on holiday and managed to get through more books in 2 weeks than 3 months ! If I have missed something out it must be something I didn’t rent out but I think it’s unlikely – I had another exam after Libra and have had quite a lot on at work and this year haven’t managed to read through it like I did last year – probably because I keep getting such unappealing books out of the library (but they have to be read at some point, you could argue).

Michel Houellebecq is (unsurprisingly, from the name) a French author – previously I have tried to read French language novels in French (because what is the point of being able to read French otherwise ?) but to be honest I didn’t pay much attention to the name when I got this out and it didn’t click that it was originally French until I pulled it out on the plane to start. Platform begins, I suppose in a nod to Camus, with the death of the narrator (Michel)’s father, and his return to his parental home. Michel, whose life is (by his own admission) fairly empty, then takes a holiday to Thailand, where we’re introduced to the rest of the holidaymakers on his tour and during which time he engages in casual sex tourism – which becomes key to the novel when he afterwards begins a relationship with a woman from the tour (Valerie) who works for the holiday company. I suppose this seemed an usual subject for a novel but equally it’s not something that I’ve considered at all really – despite having visited quite a lot of the countries mentioned – reading this on holiday (albeit in a European country rather than the places they visit which I think are considerably poorer) made it slightly more thought provoking.

The novel then follows Michel and Valerie as their relationship develops and as Valerie’s career progresses – the writing is accessible and easy to read and I got through it very quickly and, to be honest, it seemed like a strange book to have on the list until the last few chapters which I can’t talk about without ruining the novel; but which came as a complete surprise and took me aback quite a bit. Reflecting on it I can’t really explain why I enjoyed this so much – I think I appreciated the frankness of the narration although some reviews I read after have criticised Valerie’s character as being unrealistic and idealised – however I would take criticism with them because I think if a male character was written in such a way the same wouldn’t have been said. I haven’t checked if any of his other novels are on the list but I would be intrigued to read more – it really came into its own with the surprise ending and left me thinking about it for quite a while after – it’s been a while since I read a novel which has had me doing this !

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