The Elementary Particles Review

The Elementary Particles
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The Elementary Particles ReviewWhen I read the shrill reviews from the uptight liberals at the New York Times, I knew this book had to be good. I was right. The Elementary Particles is the story of two half-brothers in post-1960s France. When their hippy mother runs off to a New Age community in California, the two boys are sent to live with different sets of grandparents. The boys grow up in a world infected by the ideas of the 1960s revolution. The highest values are American ones: radical individualism, sexual liberation, and self-expression. The bonds holding people together have been eroded as France is mercilessly (and tragically) Americanized. Every facet of life has been reduced to crude, radical competition. The law of the jungle prevails. The two brothers react to this sad new world in interesting ways. Bruno -- a teacher, failed writer, and chronic masturbator -- embarks on a life of endless searching for love but becomes obsessed with pornography, sex clubs, cyber sex, and nudist holiday camps; he molests one of his female students. Michel, a scientist, withdraws from the world, unable to love; he devotes all his time to biology and genetics research. Their superficially different reactions bely the fact that they suffer from the same modern disease which manifests itself in an inability to love, self-absorption, and an absence of meaningful social interactions. There is no larger community in this world; just a bunch of atomized human beings -- elementary particles -- that occasionally bump into one another for sex. They are adrift in a decadent West unaware of its own rapid decline. Bruno and Michel ultimately choose similar ways to deal with their sad fate. This book is a timely indictment of the social, sexual, economic, and technological upheavals in the West since the 1960s. This may help explain why Houellebecq has been so viciously denounced by the liberal and conservative establishment, not only in France but also in America. Speaking truth to power makes enemies. As a much-needed critique of a global society dominated by liberal, consumerist American values this is a very important work. But as a deconstruction of that society it is only the beginning. It is also entertaining and hilarious, if at times needlessly graphic. I recommend it.The Elementary Particles Overview

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