The Map and Territory by Michel Houellebecq


The Map and the Territory is the 6th book read so far this calendar year and the 3rd novel. The book and the author were not on the radar at all until it popped up as a recommendation on Twitter.

To start with, the book levels out at an OK read. It has real flashes of deep thought and reflectiveness of life and a lot that I can personally relate to, which makes the book engrossing in parts. But often the author will drift, to what I think, are unnecessary meanderings around areas of the book not totally related to the plot of the story. Maybe it is my lack of artistic integrity that fails to allow me to appreciate these meanderings as some form of philosophical disection of life, I’m not sure.

The story is primarily set over a 20+ year period specifically around the fortunes of a struggling artists life who suddenly finds fame in both his photographic and portrait skills. The first half of the book is a standard narrative taking into consideration the unnecessary meanderings of the artists life and his real life struggles with his capricious central heating boiler and his forever regretful and remorseful father. It’s almost like the first half of the book is dedicated to the birth of the main character even though we pick him up in his late 30’s.

The book takes an alarming twist in the second half and one could be forgiven that this was really two seperate projects knitted together to make one complete story, albeit slightly mis-aligned. The second half deals a lot with death, both physically and metaphorically, with the particularly brutal and precise murder of a famous writer as well as slow death of the main characters relationship with the love of his life as well as his lust for life.

I guess on the whole the book was worth the time to read, especially as i could relate to some of the character’s traits. However, there are probably more entertaining fictional books or informative books that can be read in its place.

Favourite Quote:
”to destroy the subject of morality in his own person is tantamount to obliterating from the world, as far he can, the existence of morality itself…”