Michel Houellebecq – I Feel Like Giving Up

I feel like giving up, and collapse on the back seat. But the wheels of need start turning again. The evening’s ruined, maybe the week, maybe even the rest of my life, but I’ll still need to go out again and get booze.

In Tesco a few yummy mummies are wondering in the aisles, refined and sexed up like peahens. There are probably a few men there too, but who cares? You can give up on small talk as much as you like, a vagina is still an opening.

I went up the stairs, clutching my litre of rum in its plastic bag. I’m killing myself, I can see that, my teeth have started to crumble. And when I look at women, why do they run away? Do they think I plead too much, or I’m desperate, have too much anger, or look like a perv? I’ve no idea. Probably never will. And that’s the tragedy.

Taken from The Art of Struggle by Michel Houellebecq, translated by Delphine Grass and Timothy Mathews, published by Alma Books at £10.99 (www.almabooks.com)

Michel Houllebecq

Michel Houellebecq lives in County Cork, Ireland. He is the bestselling author of Atomised, Platform, Whatever and The Possibility of an Island. He is also a poet, essayist and rap artist.

Delphine Grass has written a doctoral thesis entitled The Poetics of Humanity in the Novels of Michel Houellebecq at University College London. Her poetry has been published in various French and English-language journals. She is a member of the A Verse poetry group based in La Sorbonne, Paris.

Timothy Mathews is Professor of French and Comparative Criticism at University College London. He is author of Reading Apollinaire. Theories of Poetic Language (Manchester University Press 1987 and 1990), and Literature, Art and the Pursuit of Decay in Twentieth-Century France (Cambridge University Press 2000 and 2006).

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