A Writer’s Sex Life
You have to wonder how commentators on well-known authors jazz up their copy with statements such as this: “Sex, specifically sex with women far younger than he, is the only thing that makes Houellebecq (and his surrogates) the least bit happy, if happiness it be. (The Times profile quoted above claims that Houellebecq sleeps with about two dozen women per year, with his wife’s enthusiastic approval.)” The New Criterion. And in the same league of personal attacks, “The man seems to have limited his interactions with women to bars, package resorts, and sex clubs. This is, if true, more or less like basing one’s judgment of mankind on life in a whorehouse.”
Houellbecq’s The Platform is largely set in Thailand. But Stephan Beck dismisses Houellbecq not on literary grounds. Instead his sex life and attitude toward sex is sufficient to deprive him of any meaningful voice.
My favourite Houellbecq quote came when he was tried in Paris for inciting hatred against Muslims, and he was asked whether he’d ever read the French Criminal Code. Houellbecq replied that he hadn’t read it: “It is excessively long,” he said, “and I suspect that there are many boring passages.” Ultimately he was acquitted of the charges. The same quote could easily be said about Stephan Beck’s hatchet job on Houellbecq.