I don't often do this, but once in a while a book is so well written (and translated) and stays in my mind so solidly for days or, in this case, weeks, that I feel it would advantage others to be tipped off to it. Such a book is Michel Houellebecq's The Possibility of an Island.
The book has an interesting and unusual plot, but what got me is the narrator. The nastiest, most unlikable one I've encountered since Notes from Underground or Lolita. And yet ... and yet ... did you not secretly, with a perverse shiver, sorta kinda like Humbert, did you not connect via humilation with the Underground Man? I had similar fights with myself over Daniel1, the ex-comedian who sets down his story in most of the book, and Daniel24 and Daniel25, his clones, who finish things up 1000 years later.
Love and lust and growing old among the ruins of moral bankruptcy in the West -- all the Daniels bring down blunt hammers on these topics. I just love honesty in a narrator. There is not a moment of relief here, not a chipper falsehood in sight, not a whiff of sentiment. Yet having Daniel1 be a famous former comedian allows Houellebecq to have some serious fun -- one of his hit sketches is called "We Prefer the Palestinian Orgy Sluts." Add to this a UFO/cloning cult, a nymphomaniac actress, and a scheme by which humans become replaced by neohumans who have replaced eating with photosynthesis and sex with "intermediation," blend it all up good with a rich cynicism that is somehow actually refreshing, and top it off with healthy sprinkles of good old French libertinism, and you have, in my opinion, a tasty -- yet nutritious -- read.
John Updike prissily slammed the book in the New Yorker some time ago, which should only whet your appetite (I could not understand any of his objections). Other critics can't seem to get enough of this precocious writer. I think he has his finger correctly on the pulse of the times. Diagnosis: Species-wide suicidal madness. Prognosis: Terminal. Prescription: Brutal candor.
Oh, and here is the European cover, which is oh so tackily ooh la la, and which, when I brought it out at pubs and cafes, did of course make me feel a bit dirty.
Come on, now, surely you've been reading and want to also share what's getting you worked up nowadays?