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Just finished the last thirty wonderfully flowing and surprising pages that end with the total domination of vegetation and then went back to the first lines namedropping Jeff Koons and Damien Hirst and said aloud "Ha, what a great book." 

I love how clearly he writes, with such unexpected analysis/insight, exaggerated generalizations asserted as truth (although toned down in this one -- not as much potentially politically incorrect stuff in general, and certainly not as much sex as the last two). 

I purposefully read nothing about this one and only knew it had been called an art world thriller -- which is half right. It's not a thriller and it's not so much about the art world as it is about how the nature of human industry relates to nature itself? 

A must for fans and a good introduction, too. No one else does genre-mashup semi-misanthropic nihilistic philosophy quite like him, although this did at times seem like a much better rendition of what BEE did in Lunar Park, genre-y literary fiction that includes the author as a character? 

But this novel doesn't devolve into spare plot mechanics -- the detective crimey bits are just as robust and typically swervy and "written" as the stuff that seems more literary. 

A nod, I think, to 2666 at one point but transposed to Thailand and the murders dropped from 300 to 30. 

Overall, an enjoyable weekend plus a few other sittings reading this. A softer, gentler (even accounting for the vicious murder and assorted body parts here and there), more mature Houellebecq, with his sharp, authentically Franch eye now a little more on the end of life (and the end of authentic/traditional French culture), although in this he spends 30 or so pages early on delivering the main character's backstory, something I don't remember in his other books, wherein characters are usually presented without much authorial worry re: their histories, like in genre books. 

Amazingly, there's even a strong-willed successful female character in this one who's not treated as a sex object! 

This book will probably be treated as news about contemporary (French and international commerce) culture that'll stay news in the future, or maybe like the old photos Jed films it'll fade with exposure to time and the elements, like Balzac before him? 

Houellebecq suggests that all he wants to do is account for what he sees, aspiring to the patient vision of plants. What he sees he presents as an inexact map of the thickety terrain of life, where all things change, except for ever-changing nature and the criminal motivations of sex and greed. Something like that. 

Anyway, a real good book. Might go back and read The Elementary Particles.
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