Death by Self-Parody
Giving his critics what they want, Michel Houellebecq kills off a character named Michel Houellebecq
The Map and the Territory
by Michel Houellebecq
translation by Gavin Bowd
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As befits a well-practiced and much-lauded controversialist, Michel Houellebecq’s novel The Map and the Territory first incited a mini-hubbub over plagiarism upon its publication last year in France, then went on to win the Prix Goncourt. The lifted sections (as Houellebecq readily acknowledged) were from Wikipedia: long swaths of unremarkable factoids about things you’re probably not interested in reading about, like houseflies. If you find the whole pomo-pastiche thing a little tedious, there are other pleasures to be had, since a depressed, dyspeptic, and controversial writer named Michel Houellebecq gets gruesomely murdered in the second half of the book. The disquisition on houseflies comes into play because the body is in a state of advanced decomposition by the time it’s discovered. Extremely advanced.
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