Houellebecq has surmised that his work appeals to readers because “you sense obscurely that it’s the truth.” If the truth entails our conducting sociological soliloquies within and congealing into sought clichés without, this sense must feel like the suffocation of a nightmare, even if it comes slathered in the pleasure of his novels. Houellebecq is resolutely bleak in all his prophecies about human existence—or nearly so. At the end of his latest novel Serotonin, the protagonist, having slogged through a life of selfishness, betrayal, loneliness, confusion, and stretches of vacuous pleasure, holes up in a Paris apartment with a nearly physical ache to commit suicide, and the reader senses it must come. But the death is not depicted. The novel ends instead with the following passage:
God takes care of us; he thinks of us every minute, and he gives us instructions that are sometimes very precise. Those surges of love that flow into our chests and take our breath away—those illuminations, those ecstasies, inexplicable if we consider our biological nature, our status as simple primates—are extremely clear signs.
And today I understand Christ’s point of view and his repeated horror at the hardening of people’s hearts: all of these things are signs, and they don’t realise it. Must I really, on top of everything, give my life for these wretches? Do I really have to be explicit on that point?
Writer - Critic - Poet - Editor