The Map and the Territory
French author Michel Houellebecq is in danger of losing his reputation as a controversialist with this relatively tame story of an artist, Jed Martin, who becomes rich and famous by photographing road maps and painting celebrities, like Michel Houellebecq. Themes such as the anti-social effect of fabulous, casually acquired wealth and the dismal nature of the human condition are again projected fancifully into the future. And of course both Jed Martin and the character of Michel Houellebecq are mouthpieces for the author’s own cynical point of view, which we thus get in stereo. Conventionally unconventional, it doesn’t break any new ground but still makes for a good read. One gets a sense, however, that Houellebecq’s career trajectory is starting to mirror Bret Easton Ellis’s a bit too closely.