Saturday 9 January 2016

One Weed, Two Reads

This pretty little plant, with its three-petalled flowers, caught my eye today in Wellington's spectacular and rather lovely Central Park (and I had noticed it earlier in other parts of town). It is Tradescantia fluminensis, a kind of Spiderwort, also fancifully known as the Wandering Jew. Although it's highly invasive and regarded as a noisome weed, it does make the most delightful ground cover...
 Meanwhile, I find myself with more reading time than I expected on this holiday, and am reading in tandem Flannery O'Connor's The Violent Bear It Away (her second and final novel) and Michel Houellebecq's Submission (his latest) An unlikely pairing on the face of it, but both are works of fiercely individual imagination that make no concessions or compromises - take it or leave it (and many, understandably, find both writers too strong meat). O'Connor's God-soaked world and Houellebecq's God-abandoned one are equally absolute; there is no way out of either. Oddly, however, religion does find its way into Submission, which is in its typically perverse way a kind of acknowledgment of the inevitable 'return of religion' - this time in the form of the near-future Islamisation of France. It's a fascinating book, and, as always with Houellebecq, horribly readable. I shall probably have more to say when I've finished it.

 And I saw another Monarch in Central Park.


  1. Finished Houellebecq's wonderful 'The Map and the Territory' a month ago, and grabbed immediately 'The Possibility of an Island' from the library - for more. What a disappointment. Containing the usual shocking sexual mix, the so-called bad boy of French letters seems here to come unstuck, with an obsessive lurching between mawkishness and repugnance - for all the usual suspects...consumerism, lust, God..& etc. I shall now wait for your reflections upon Submission!

  2. Yes, I've heard nothing but bad reports of The Possibility of an Island, so I've steered clear. I think I can safely say that Submission is a very different bouilloire des poissons...