Down from your high-horses, fuddy-duddies: it’s fun!
Is it Citizen Kane? No, but neither is Citizen Kane. If like me you adore Michel Houellebecq’s novels and like me also loathe them, you’re going to enjoy this recent contribution to the mock-u-caper genre. Surely Peter O’Toole and Audrey Hepburn would have been cast had they still been living, meeting cute and heisting forged Cellinis. That said, M. Houellebecq, slowly immolating himself with chain-lit Marlboros, looks like a corpse anyway.
Amongst its pleasures are: semi-literate thugs discussing style vs character with their captive, who frustrates them with his gnomic responses; Houellebecq trying to learn to whistle (“La Marseillaise”) immediately after arguing that it’s perfectly reasonable for him to request two glasses of wine with his sandwich; and perhaps funniest of all, the intensely frail author being instructed in boxing technique by one of his captors (“Don’t tuck your thumb inside your fist, Michel”).