"He theorizes on the rise of individualism and on its sorry meaning for sex, love, and truth. You might wonder if an analytic lucidity on airy topics such as those can possibly suit a novel any better than does his bleak landscape of depressed isolated consciousness. For what is the purpose in writing novels? Isn't it to discover a middle terrain between the low-grounds of lonely, individual awareness and the heights of pure abstraction? Shouldn't a novel go tramping instead through the leafy trails of social existence, where people are husbands and wives and brothers and friends and enemies? Where life is verdant with facts and relations?"
"Balzac made a habit of theorizing lucidly on any number of themes, and doing it in a cool, detached style, like a scientist."
"Houellebecq's Good Old Days of aristocracy and romantic love appear to have lasted about five years, from circa 1958, which happens to be the year of his own birth, to 1963 or thereabouts. He does not mean to be funny about this."