I’m not quite sure why French author Michel Houellebecq put a lot of sex in his novel, The Elementary Particles (2000) except that the book does impart the familiar message that no salvation lies in either sex or science. Houellebecq’s two main characters are Michel, a scientist, and Bruno, a hedonist. The author has no faith in liberalism or humanism either. As for religion . . . well, he’s not without a certain respect for it (he gives Michel the insight that “materialism, having destroyed the religious faiths of previous centuries, had itself been destroyed by recent advances in physics”), but neither can he embrace thoroughgoing belief.
Mr. H.’s plotless novel is highly intelligent and occasionally funny but, all things considered, not one I can finally accept. I’m rooting for him, though.