CELEBRITY BOOK REVIEW: Michel Houellebecq on Michel Houellebecq

by Courtney Maum

Sonny Mehta, Editor-in-Chief
Alfred A. Knopf
1745 Broadway
NY, NY
10019
USA

Jan. 3rd, 2012

Dear Sonny,

I am writing you regarding the fifth sentence in the English version of my novel, The Map and the Territory. Or rather, my wife is writing you. I dictate from the bed.

It is my understanding that you have translated “Kronenbourg” to “Bud Light” on the first page of this book. As in, “(Damien) Hirst was drinking a Bud Light.” Sonny, this won’t do. Apparently the translation is already in print? This won’t do, either.

Have you drunk a Kronenbourg recently, Sonny Mehta? Has the translator properly done his research, taken his job seriously, drank a Kro? Apparently, non.

With its flaccid texture; its promise of hoppiness that expires prematurely, flatulently, upon the tongue; its sickly pale green bottle suggesting both bile and absinthe; its boorish logo with semiotic ties to far-right racist paramilitary movements; the fact that our former president pronounced it to be his favorite French beer even though everyone knows Chirac kept a mini dorm fridge of Corona in the Elysees Palace, and also, Kronenbourg isn’t even French, it is brewed in England; for all these reasons, Kronenbourg represents the hypocritical disappointments of this disgusting age and if that cretin translator had paid an ounce of attention to the histrionic use of product placement in my novels he would have known — intuitively — that I NEVER WOULD HAVE CHOSEN A BRAND LIKE BUD LIGHT. Perhaps this Gavin Bowd fellow would be better employed traipsing over the work of Raymond Carver?

I have not read the rest of the translation and I won’t. Here is the beverage I would like to see in the Bud Light’s place: lime green Gatorade. Sonny, I don’t care what you need to do to make this happen. If you call me complaining about money I will — at some point — punch you in the face.

Also. Sorry that I missed my Flemish book tour. Whoops!

Yours,
Michel Houellebecq (via Marie-Pierre Gauthier)

P.S: Marie just told me I put “une Budweiser Light” in the original French version? I blame automatic spell check. I stand by the above.

The Map and the Territory

by Michel Houellebecq

Powells.com

***
— Courtney Maum is a fiction writer based in between the Berkshires of Massachusetts and New York City. Her work has recently appeared online in Tin House, Blip, The Rumpus, Vol.1, Anderbo and others. A frequent reader at NY-based series and a Literary Death Match champion, she’s currently working on a collection of comic fiction. Find her on Twitter at @cmaum

Editor’s note: Any resemblances to actual celebrities — alive or dead — are miraculously coincidental. For more Celebrity Book Review, click here.

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