Still Reading: SUBMISSION, p. 161

Context: France is undergoing deep and rapid change. For one, the newly elected president is Muslim.

Been a long time since self has read a political novel.

Maybe it was too soon to give up after all — witness these two girls, and my father’s surprising late-life transformation. And maybe, if I kept seeing Rachida on a regular basis, we’d end up having feelings for each other. At least, there was no reason to absolutely rule it out.

  • — p. 161, Submission, by Michel Houellebecq, translated from the French by Lorin Stein

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

#amreading: SOLARIS, by Stanislaw Lem

DSCN0611

Stanislaw Lem was self’s first science fiction. She stumbled across it in a bookstore on Harvard Square. This translation (from the French) was by Joanna Kilmartin and Steve Cox.

Opening page:

At 19:00, ship’s time, I made my way to the launching bay. The men around the shaft stood aside to let me pass, and I climbed down into the capsule.

Inside the narrow cockpit, there was scarcely room to move. I attached the hose to the valve on my spacesuit and it inflated rapidly. From then on, I was incapable of making the smallest movement. There I stood, or rather hung suspended, enveloped in my pneumatic suit and yoke to the metal hull.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

 

Houellebecq: SUBMISSION, p. 128

  • He was born in 1922, if you can believe it. Exactly a hundred years ago. He joined the Resistance early on, in late June 1940. Even in his day, French patriotism was an idea whose time had passed. You could say that it was born at the Battle of Valmy, in 1792, and that it began to die in 1917, in the trenches of Verdun. That’s hardly more than a century — not long, if you think about it. Today, who believes in French patriotism? The National Front claims to, but their belief is so insecure, so desperate.

2nd Michel Houellebecq Sentence of the Day: Still SUBMISSION, still p. 72

Paris, 201x:

All of a sudden, as I stood in front of the Rapid ‘Jus (whose concoctions kept getting more and more complicated: they had coconut-passion fruit-guava, mango-lychee-guarana, and a dozen other flavors, all with bewildering vitamin ingredients), I thought of Bruno Deslandes.

Stay tuned.

Michel Houellebecq: SUBMISSION, p. 72

  • Hidden all day in impenetrable black burqas, rich Saudi women transformed themselves by night into birds of Paradise with their corsets, their see-through bras, their G-strings with multicolored lace and rhinestones.

There you have it, folks: Paris in the year 201x.

Stay tuned.

Michel Houellebecq: SUBMISSION, p. 35

Submission is self’s third Michel Houellebecq novel (translated from the French by Lorin Stein), and by far the shortest.

What she remembers of the other two is that they had this stream-of-consciousness raunchiness thing going on. So French.

This one is interesting because people actually e-mail and text, there is talk of terrorist attacks around Paris, and the characters seem to know a lot more about mosques, halal, Israel, Dubai, and so forth.

Self’s favorite parts, though, are the ruminations. For example, p. 35:

  • Animals live without feeling the least need of justification, as do the crushing majority of men. They live because they live, and then I suppose they die because they die, and for them that’s all there is to it. If only as a Huysmanist, I felt obliged to do a little better.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Michel Houellebecq: Sentence of the Day

You’ll notice from the above post heading that self has moved on from The Elephant Vanishes. She’s currently reading Submission, a Michel Houellebecq novel, translated from the French by Lorin Stein.

She’s read two books by Houellebecq, but that was years ago: Platform and The Elementary Particles. Submission features a more restrained Houellebecq (Platform on the other hand was — WOW!)

The protagonist of Submission is a middle-aged academic who knows a lot of things:

  • p. 25: “He laid out these ideas in a short article for the Journal of Nineteenth Century Studies, which, for the several days it took to write it, was much more engaging than the political campaign, but did nothing to keep me from thinking about Myriam.”

Self loves long sentences when done well.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Poetry Friday: St. John of the Cross

Everything about me
sends word of your myriad graces.
And yet everything hurts,
everything leaves me dying,
stammering on about I don’t know
what’s what.

— St. John of the Cross, translated from the Spanish by Paul Mariani

Murakami, Greatness

  • This is my seventeenth straight day without sleep.

Sleep, Story # 5 in The Elephant Vanishes, by Haruki Murakami, translation by Jay Rubin

How many years ago did self first read this collection?

It left hardly any impression.

She loves it madly now.

Stay tuned.

#amreading THE ELEPHANT VANISHES, by Haruki Murakami

Self has read this book before, apparently (See blog dating 20____). But the only story she remembers is the one about making spaghetti.

Now, this go-round, she is finding the book a lot of fun. She doesn’t remember it being as much fun the first time.

Story # 3: The Kangaroo Communiqué

Shall I put it on the line?

I want to be able to be in two places at once. That is my one and only wish. Other than that, there’s not a thing I desire.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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