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3.5 

The Map and the Territory

By Michel Houellebecq & Gavin Bowd
The Map and the Territory by Michel Houellebecq & Gavin Bowd digital book - Fable

Publisher Description

The most celebrated and controversial French novelist of our time now delivers his magnum opus—about art and money, love and friendship and death, fathers and sons.
 
The Map and the Territory is the story of an artist, Jed Martin, and his family and lovers and friends, the arc of his entire history rendered with sharp humor and powerful compassion. His earliest photographs, of countless industrial objects, were followed by a surprisingly successful series featuring Michelin road maps, which also happened to bring him the love of his life, Olga, a beautiful Russian working—for a time—in Paris. But global fame and fortune arrive when he turns to painting and produces a host of portraits that capture a wide range of professions, from the commonplace (the owner of a local bar) to the autobiographical (his father, an accomplished architect) and from the celebrated (Bill Gates and Steve Jobs Discussing the Future of Information Technology) to the literary (a writer named Houellebecq, with whom he develops an unusually close relationship).
 
Then, while his aging father (his only living relative) flirts with oblivion, a police inspector seeks Martin’s help in solving an unspeakably gruesome crime—events that prove profoundly unsettling. Even so, now growing old himself, Jed Martin somehow discovers serenity and manages to add another startling chapter to his artistic legacy, a deeply moving conclusion to this saga of hopes and losses and dreams.

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11 Reviews

3.5
Slightly Smiling Face
Multi-layered charactersDescriptive writingOriginal writingTwistyImmersive settingDark
“Houellebecq speaks with such a severe pessimism about life and the human experience, that it can be hard to feel happy after a good read. Francois in Submission is left with only his hedonistic desires, drifted away from his concern with God. Michel and Bruno in The Elementary Particles finish their lives with degrees of dissatisfaction, dying as they lived their own separate lives. Jed Martin in the Map and the Territory dies with regret, yet he is the most victorious out of the three. He was able to change his world, able to help his friend. He died, still chasing his desire, but perhaps this desire was pure happiness. A longing for something more than money and love. Unlike Francois, Jed’s focus in life was not the women he screwed, but the work he did. He was able to create his own niche, rising from tragedy, dying with dignity. There is no other happier end for a Houellebecq character. It was a refreshing change of pace to not be inundated with graphic accounts of coitus in a Houellebecq work. The man can write such thoughtful prose when not smushed in between pages bordering on smut. And I love his other novels, but the sex bothered me somewhat. This novel felt so impactful, it felt so meaningful, more than Houellebecq’s other novels. There was a sense of hope within this book. That we can rise up for the occasion and act on opportunities given to us. Perhaps this is too much of an optimistic look at a Houellebecq novel, and I know this sex-less read will be the last of his bibliography. My optimism will be dashed by Platform or Serotonin, but Jed Martin’s story will leave just as big of an impact on me.”

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