Friday, November 20, 2009

Houellebecq and Pop

"I'd like to thank Michel Houllebecq for his great f***ing book!" So shouts Iggy Pop during a May 2009 show in Paris. The book, Houellebecq's Possibility of an Island (2005), is a somewhat depressing tale of love and life. And clones. Boy meets girl, boy and girl are sort of happy together, boy grows disgusted with world, girl ages, they drift apart, boy joins religious cloning cult, planet ravaged by nuclear war, boy's future clones write diaries. The usual stuff. Dissolution of humanity through technology, disappearance of emotion. Fun! But seriously, Iggy Pop is right as always, and this is a great book - if sometimes a horrible, horrible downer. There's a good message in there. Go find it.

What's more, art begets art as they say (Do they say that? They should). Iggy Pop's 2009 album Préliminaires was inspired by The Possibility of an Island, and it is also, in keeping with the theme, great. More jazz-oriented and a lot more quiet than most of his other stuff, it is a satisfying departure and suits the tone of the novel perfectly. Pop's crooning of "Les feuilles mortes" is haunting, as is his rendition of the other standard on the album, "How Insensitive." "I Want to Go to the Beach" and "Spanish Coast" are downright depressing, playing on themes and emotions pulled right from the book. Dogs feature prominently in the novel, and one of my favorite songs from Préliminaires is "King of the Dogs"; but there is also "A Machine for Loving," which is just Iggy reading a passage from the book in which the narrator's dog dies. It is difficult to read, and even more chilling when heard. Now I've made myself sad. Still: read the book, get the album. You'll agree with us.

1 comment:

mordicai said...

I hated Elementary Particles so so much, but liked his Lovecraft essay a lot. Still-- I don't think I can venture into his fiction again-- I really hate loathsome characters.