I read my first snippets of Michel Houellebecq’s writing on a ferry between Bellingham, Wash., and Juneau, Alaska. It was two decades ago, and I was with my family. I sat on the deck of the boat, under an awning, as the fjords of the Inside Passage slipped past me.
Houellebecq was a new voice, and I was reading an excerpt from Extension du domaine de la lutte (published in English as “Whatever”) in Granta magazine.
He’s got a new novel out. He also recently published this apologia for the current president of the United States. The headline is perhaps deliberately trolling, but there isn’t a single American writer of his stature who would be brave enough, or foolhardy or foolish enough, to write this.
It’s a snow day here in Durham. I’ve been catching up on email, futsal planning, bills, shopping for better car insurance, and so on. I’ve also read back issues of NYRB and The New Yorker.
The latter of the two publications has a haunting cover image of an ocean liner at night. But inside there is an all-too-common story about a minor artist with well-connected friends. Too bad Trump adviser Peter Thiel destroyed Gawker. Now who’s going to to get paid to tear into tripe like this?
(By the way, the begetter of this carefully shaped bit of flattery has made two films I liked a lot: Reprise and Oslo, 31, August. But his latest–and his English-language debut–Louder Than Bombs, was gravely disappointing.)
It’s early days in the Trump era, and I’m not reassured by the quality of the mainstream liberal media–anything with “New York” in the masthead.