in transit: the divine invasion of houellebecq

transiting 2-plus hours a day gives one a lot of reading time. after putting down a lot of crap i came into a bunch of good ones.

Michel Houellebecq is amazing. his book Atomised is one of the best books i’ve read, period. the ending is absolutely incredible, taking the book in an unexpected direction. kind of like the ending to A.I.. at first you question this incredible leap, but then you buy into it. when taking that risk pays off, it pays off big time.

Houellebecq’s whatever is good, but nowhere near as good as Atomised. it reminded me of Camus in some ways (i can’t remember how, it’s already been a few weeks since i read it and i have a notoriously lousy memory). check out this quote, partially blurbed on the book cover – the main character is discussing his experiences with his therapist:

…From time to time he glances at his wristwatch (fawn leather strap, rectangular gold-plated face); I get the feeling of not overly interesting him. I ask myself if he keeps a revolver in his drawer, for patients in a state of violent crisis. At the end of an hour he pronounces a few phrases of general import on periods of blankness, extends my leave of absence and increases my dosage of medication. He also reveals that my condition has a name: it’s a depression. Officially, then, I’m in a depression. The formula seems a happy one to me. It’s not that I feel tremendously low; it’s rather that the world around me appears high.

also thoroughly enjoyed Lawrence Sutin’s Divine Invasions: A Life of Philip K. Dick. Sutin used a few too many cliched phrases, but this was his first stab at a book, so he may be forgiven. his editor, however, should be persecuted to the full extent of literary law (in which i believe being ‘booked’ rather than ‘stoned’ is the ultimate sentence).

Phil Dick is a wacky cat, and his attempts to further understand the nature of reality and meaning leave me in awe. in a way it is no more amazing than how everyone else seems to buy into their own realities. Phil just struggled with his version of things a bit more. not to trivialize him. his excursions are simply incredible, whereas most people are mundane and rather boring. if only everyone questioned themselves so heavily.

the other best read lately was Ted Anton’s Eros, Magic, and the Murder of Professor Culianu, which could have turned out to be nothing more than pulp crap but was actually intriguing. Anton makes a bit much of certain aspects (Culianu’s dabbling in the occult), but does a decent job of giving a brief overview of Romanian political history. i’m not sure if Culianu was everything he’s made out to be, but he comes across as a powerful mind that was turned off far too soon.

other than these good reads, transit sucks shit. it makes my day long. really, though, Translink, and this fucking strike in general, are killing the poor, disabled, and elderly. like i really have anything to complain about compared to that.