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The Body Artist: A Novel

The Body Artist: A Novel

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The Body Artist: A Novel

évaluations:
3.5/5 (42 évaluations)
Longueur:
105 pages
1 heure
Éditeur:
Sortie:
Apr 7, 2001
ISBN:
9780743212229
Format:
Livre

Description

A stunning novel by the bestselling National Book Award–winning author of White Noise and Underworld.

Since the publication of his first novel Americana, Don DeLillo has lived in the skin of our times. He has found a voice for the forgotten souls who haunt the fringes of our culture and for its larger-than-life, real-life figures. His language is defiantly, radiantly American.

In The Body Artist his spare, seductive twelfth novel, he inhabits the muted world of Lauren Hartke, an artist whose work defies the limits of the body. Lauren is living on a lonely coast, in a rambling rented house, where she encounters a strange, ageless man, a man with uncanny knowledge of her own life. Together they begin a journey into the wilderness of time, love and human perception.

The Body Artist is a haunting, beautiful and profoundly moving novel from one of the finest writers of our time.
Éditeur:
Sortie:
Apr 7, 2001
ISBN:
9780743212229
Format:
Livre

À propos de l'auteur

Don DeLillo is the author of seventeen novels including White Noise, Libra, Underworld, Falling Man, and Zero K. He has won the National Book Award, the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, the PEN/Saul Bellow Award, the Jerusalem Prize for his complete body of work, and the William Dean Howells Medal from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His story collection The Angel Esmeralda was a finalist for the Story Prize and the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. In 2013, DeLillo was awarded the Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction, and in 2015, the National Book Foundation awarded DeLillo its Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. 

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Aperçu du livre

The Body Artist - Don DeLillo

America’s premier manifest-destiny muralist has turned miniaturist. Yet it would be a mistake to equate short with slight, as DeLillo returns to his familiar obsessions of time, perception and identity with haikulike commitment to address the deepest truths in the fewest words.

—Don McLeese, Chicago Sun-Times

This very short novel by an American master can be read in a single sitting. But you probably should allow time for several sittings . . . to ponder the precision of Don DeLillo’s prose and the depth of his understanding.

—Nina King, The Washington Post

. . . deft and sure . . . a demanding, brilliant confrontation of the question of what is real, amid a world and a life woven of appearances.

—Michael Pakenham, Baltimore Sun

. . . explores the limits and power of words . . . for readers . . . who appreciate writers who play with their words and the mystery of ideas.

—Bob Minzesheimer, USA Today

Spare and somber, yet, ultimately, liberating . . . DeLillo performs with consummate mastery in this rarefied and poetic study of grief and creativity, absence and presence, isolation and communion.

Booklist

. . . about very big things: who we are, how we let people know who we are and, most importantly, how much of living together is a matter of interpretation. . . . The risk of believing your own life and the life of others, is what makes this book worth reading, worth, in fact, believing.

—Duane Davis, Rocky Mountain News

An elegant little novel that . . . refuses to keep to little topics. . . . It has the . . . effect of undoing life lessons, undercutting clichés, exposing the abyss that lurks beneath, beside and amidst our ordinary lives.

—Ben Ehrenreich, LA Weekly

An unsettling but thoroughly fascinating read . . . an unforgettable vision.

—Paul Gray, Time

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CHAPTER 1

Time seems to pass. The world happens, unrolling into moments, and you stop to glance at a spider pressed to its web. There is a quickness of light and a sense of things outlined precisely and streaks of running luster on the bay. You know more surely who you are on a strong bright day after a storm when the smallest falling leaf is stabbed with self-awareness. The wind makes a sound in the pines and the world comes into being, irreversibly, and the spider rides the wind-swayed web.


It happened this final morning that they were here at the same time, in the kitchen, and they shambled past each other to get things out of cabinets and drawers and then waited one for the other by the sink or fridge, still a little puddled in dream melt, and she ran tap water over the blueberries bunched in her hand and closed her eyes to breathe the savor rising.

He sat with the newspaper, stirring his coffee. It was his coffee and his cup. They shared the newspaper but it was actually, unspokenly, hers.

I want to say something but what.

She ran water from the tap and seemed to notice. It was the first time she’d ever noticed this.

About the house. This is what it is, he said. Something I meant to tell you.

She noticed how water from the tap turned opaque in seconds. It ran silvery and clear and then in seconds turned opaque and how curious it seemed that in all these months and all these times in which she’d run water from the kitchen tap she’d never noticed how the water ran clear at first and then went not murky exactly but opaque, or maybe it hadn’t happened before, or she’d noticed and forgotten.

She crossed to the cabinet with the blueberries wet in her hand and reached up for the cereal and took the box to the counter, the mostly brown and white box, and then the toaster thing popped and she flipped it down again because it took two flips to get the bread to go brown and he absently nodded his acknowledgment because it was his toast and his butter and then he turned on the radio and got the weather.

The sparrows were at the feeder, wing-beating, fighting for space on the curved perches.

She reached into the near cabinet for a bowl and shook some cereal out of the box and then dropped the berries on top. She rubbed her hand dry on her jeans, feeling a sense somewhere of the color blue, runny and wan.

What’s it called, the lever. She’d pressed down the lever to get his bread to go brown.

It was his toast, it was her weather. She listened to reports and called the weather number frequently and sometimes stood out front and looked into the coastal sky, tasting the breeze for latent implications.

Yes exactly. I know what it is, he said.

She went to the fridge and opened the door. She stood there remembering something.

She said, What? Meaning what did you say, not what did you want to tell me.

She remembered the soya granules. She crossed to the cabinet and took down the box and then caught the fridge door before it swung shut. She reached in for the milk, realizing what it was he’d said that she hadn’t heard about eight seconds ago.

Every time she had to bend and reach into the lower and remote parts of the refrigerator she let out a groan, but not really every time, that resembled a life lament. She was too trim and limber to feel the strain and was only echoing Rey, identifyingly, groaning his groan, but in a manner so seamless and deep it was her discomfort too.

Now that he’d remembered what he meant to tell her, he seemed to lose interest. She didn’t have to see his face to know this. It was in the air. It was in the pause that trailed from his remark of eight, ten, twelve seconds ago. Something insignificant. He would take it as a kind of self-diminishment, bringing up a matter so trivial.

She went to the counter and poured soya over the cereal and fruit. The lever sprang or sprung and he got up and took his toast back to the table and then went for the butter and she had to lean away from the counter when he approached, her milk carton poised, so he could open the drawer and get a butter knife.

There were voices on the radio in like Hindi it sounded.

She poured milk into the bowl. He sat down and got up. He went to the fridge and got the orange juice and stood in the middle of the room shaking the carton to float the pulp and make the juice thicker. He never remembered the juice until the toast was done. Then he shook the carton. Then he poured the juice and watched a skim of sizzling foam appear at the top of the glass.

She picked a hair out of her mouth. She stood at the counter looking at it, a short pale strand that wasn’t hers and wasn’t his.

He stood shaking the container. He shook it longer than he had to because he wasn’t paying attention, she thought, and because it was satisfying in some dumb and blameless way, for its own childlike sake, for the bounce and slosh and cardboard orange aroma.

He said, "Do you want

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Ce que les gens pensent de The Body Artist

3.4
42 évaluations / 27 Avis
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Avis des lecteurs

  • (3/5)
    Interesting little book. I believe it deals with the imagination and the power of the mind.
  • (1/5)
    Stream of conscious stuff, I don't get it.
  • (4/5)
    This little book caught my eye because I love the style of some of what the author has written in the past (White Noise and Libra), also because I saw it in a 1001 Books you Must Read Before you Die book. Plus, it is a novella, so is easy to bookhorn in.Immediately I was struck by the beauty of the writing. The words are put together so wonderfully and innovatively. I noticed it from the first few sentences, and it made what was actually fairly odd subject matter easier to take in. A woman has returned to the house she shared with her husband, who is now absent. She goes about her days in the type of shock that one does when they are getting used to loss. She encounters an odd person within the 4 walls of her house, and is perplexed about his existence primarily, but also the persons ability to sound exactly like both herself and her late husband. All this traipses along nicely, if somewhat oddly, and is all wrapped up near the end in a performance piece the Body Artist of the tile performs.Not being used to the ethereal....supernaturally type content of this book, I couldn't really relate or gel with the plot, but the writing in itself is enough to be able to recommend it.
  • (5/5)
    Quiet, intoxicating beauty. Some lines will make you stop in your tracks, breathless. This is forgivable in a work this short.
  • (4/5)
    I enjoyed this book by Don DeLillo very much. His use of language is amazing. I would say that this is not his best book but to me it is a memorable book. The story captures the search of someone to come to term with the loss of a loved one. This book will make you think, and keeps you wondering about it long after you're done reading it. Readers may be disappointed with the lack of plot and resolution, but others will be delighted with DeLillo's testing of the boundaries of fiction.
  • (3/5)
    A bit too cryptic for my taste. But the prose is beautiful, so if you aren't thrown off too much by the stream of consciousness and anti-climactic plot line. It's worth the short read.
  • (3/5)
    It is a short book (124 pages). I love his writing. Ididn't care for this story much though. There was too much unexplainedweirdness, stuff that defied the laws of physics. Some people love this stuff,but perhaps as a scientist I at least want a plausible explanation. (Note: I didenjoy the Time Traveller's Wife). Also, Lauren was not a believable femalecharacter, which is so common among male writers. The sexual stuff would justnot ever happen that way and reeked of male perspective and terminology (I foundThe Time Traveller's Wife to be similar in this regard-- even though written by a woman). Her whole phychologywas just not real to me. There are some beautifully written passages but tomake the story work there would just have to be more of it. Too many open endsfor me.Rating: 3.0
  • (4/5)
    A very spare, but tender and moving, story of loss, grief and the implications they have an a young widow. I was completely enraptured by the beauty, brilliance and precision of the descriptions DeLillo wrought, of things as simple as preparing breakfast, or looking out a window. This is one of those stories which inhabits the small spaces, the in-between moments, where the briefest micro-second of thought pauses us in our actions. We all do this every day, but no other writer can describe it so perfectly.
  • (1/5)
    DeLillo is an acquired taste. Fortunately, this wasn't my first taste; otherwise it would have been my last. "The Body Artist" is a kind of throw-away book, the kind that Hemingway started writing at the end of his career before "Old Man and the Sea", where everything became artful instead of functional, creative rather than created. I'm just glad that I'd already read "White Noise" - would I have done so after this?
  • (5/5)
    Suicide, or more to the point - the awful aftermath of suicide; the grief of the loved ones (in this case, the widow) left behind - would be a pretty tough sell for most works of fiction. Too depressing. Too damn real. But not in Don DeLillo's sage-like hands. He sells the devastation wrought by suicide beautifully and tenderly in The Body Artist: an existential study of time and our relationship to time as we travel through it, conveyed along for us in the imaginings (is the little miming man discovered in the third floor bedroom real or unreal?) of Lauren Hartke, and in her introspections; that is, in her deep loss and deeper longings, and ultimately in the transformative power of her art sculpted from the raw pain and suffering she endures as a recent, bewildered widow.I don't know how DeLillo does it. I feel ill-equipped describing his precise way with words. I've revised this section of the review at least ten times, knowing I'm not getting it right. I almost give up. And it's the cadence of Delillo's language too, not just the words, imbuing the words with deeper meaning. David Foster Wallace once wrote that Delillo's writing "just clicks". Expanding on that premise then, Delillo's like a metronome, hypnotic almost (but definitely not predictable despite the constant "clicking" and rhythm), and in The Body Artist, he's tapped into, and kept exquisite time with, the metaphysical. The Body Artist becomes therefore, as much a major work of philosophy as it's become a major work of fiction.What Delillo does with language evokes in me the same response I get when listening to a powerful piece of classical music: Goosebumps gallore, awe, wonder, inspiration and veneration. There's something sublime going on here in his writing that I can't quite name. Is it God? If it's not God, then it must be Art.Yes, that's what I'm driving at, in The Body Artist, Delillo has managed to translate the secret languages of the Mysterious or Metaphysical or perhaps the Divine; using the internal monologues and musings of Lauren Hartke as his mouthpiece, and making his philosophical abstractions as palpable as the pages his heady language is printed on. That Delillo's prose is unplugged in The Body Artist, acoustic, if you will, set on a simple Starbuck's stage - a one act play with few characters - proves that he can stir the soul even when his aims aren't as huge-venued or symphonic as they were in his previous, vast novel, Underworld. I'd say I enjoyed The Body Artist even more than Underworld, and even more, too, than his award winning, postmodern masterpiece, White Noise.What is a 'body artist'? To reveal that here might destroy the subtle surprise, and it's a tiny book - a novella really, full of surprises - to begin with. Before I read the book I lamely believed 'body artist' meant something regarding...tattoos. Whatever! In fact, I even tagged the book, when I first input it, with: 'tattoos,' since I've got me a tattoo or two and obviously like tattoos. I've since deleted that tag - 'tattoos' - from The Body Artist. I sure hope nobody noticed. Because body art and The Body Artist are definitely not synonymous.
  • (3/5)
    This book had some interesting ideas but I did not find it disturbing enough for the main conceit to really work on me. My favorite part of the book was the final pages when the performance was described, those images had real power.
  • (3/5)
    I don't usually sit around wondering which authors will stand the test of time, or whether this or that writer is "great" instead of merely good. These are questions for future critics and readers to decide, and I'd much rather talk about books than the people who write them. Having said that, Don DeLillo's always been on my short list of overpraised, overrated authors whose fame is unlikely to outlast his lifetime. Heck, I'd bet ten bucks on his disappearance from our cultural memory. There are, perhaps, readers out there who are impressed by the sheer scope of "Underworld" or the shiny surfaces of "White Noise," but I went through my own DeLillo phase a long time ago. These days, I find his stuff gratingly artificial, unbearably self-important and, as Leslie Fiedler once said, "all surface." His books seem to embody an aesthetic better expressed by Talking Heads albums and Brian Eno album covers. Who needs it? Still, when I found this one while sorting through my library, I thought I'd give Mr. DeLillo a chance to redeem himself. Had I been hasty in dismissing him? If Don was going to waste my time, he certainly wasn't going to waste much of it; "The Body Artist" is all of one hundred and twenty-five pages long.Well, I still don't think too much of DeLillo as a writer, but that doesn't mean that "The Body Artist" is completely without its good qualities. Its premise, which involves a performance artist's encounter with a mysterious man who seems to lack any definable qualities and to exist simultaneously in a number of temporal frames, is intriguing, and DeLillo, to his credit, doesn't exactly waste it. He balances dry, granular descriptions of his main character's everyday activities and surroundings with the emotional confusion she feels after her husband's suicide and her mysterious visitor's arrival. As the book progresses, DeLillo does a good job of demonstrating how the overarching ambiguity that this nameless figure represents threatens many of the continuities, like the regular flow of time or the integrity of the self, that most of us take for granted. Indeed, I rather admired DeLillo's attempt to embody uncertainty in a character without bringing in the supernatural, a challenge that many other writers might have shied away from. I suspect that the fact that I've read Beckett's "Trilogy" relatively recently might have made "The Body Artist" a bit more palatable to me. While DeLillo doesn't share Beckett's interest in the phenomenon of consciousness, he certainly seems eager to catalog the most far-reaching effects of uncertainty on the human psyche. And yet, I don't know if I'd recommend "The Body Artist" to anyone but readers particularly interested in the very narrow philosophically-oriented topics that DeLillo addresses here. DeLillo's word sentences are often longer and more circuitous than they need to be, his word choices often seem jarring and awkward, and most of his dialogue is stilted and cardboard-stiff. It's sometimes difficult to determine whether he's reaching for some point about the nature of language or merely a subpar writer, and I'm still not convinced that DeLillo isn't some sort of literary con man masquerading as a postmodernist. This isn't, I assume, the sort of uncertainty that DeLillo was hoping to provoke in his readers. In any event, "The Body Artist" certainly isn't a beach read. While reading generally relaxes me, I felt markedly uncomfortable in this book's fictional universe, which is a spare and unwelcoming place. I'm not entirely sorry I revisited it, since it's good to challenge your preconceptions once in a while. Still, I'm still a long way from calling myself one of DeLillo's admirers.
  • (4/5)
    Interesting book, very well written.A story of how one woman deals will the suicide of her husband and her grieving process. She discovers (imagines) a person hiding in her rambling house with whom she shares or develops her grief.
  • (4/5)
    A haunting mediation on grief and time. I liked the ephemeral way the story is told. The only thing that didn't ring true to me was the female character. She seemed more masculine than feminine, but perhaps that was intentional.
  • (5/5)
    Poetic and fascinating, this may be the most detail-focused of DeLillo's works as it consistently returns to and explores single motions, simple images made intricate, and the way forward for a solitary artist lost in her own world of action and image. DeLillo's prose is more focused and poetic than ever in this short piece of fiction, perhaps most similar to his recent Point Omega. This is a short narrative, but packed with concentration and language play. For a reader desiring a simple and intriguing read that takes each word as seriously as the shortest poem would, this is well worth the exploration. Absolutely recommended--I loved it, and look forward already to rereading.
  • (4/5)
    When I first started reading this novella by Don DeLillo a few years ago, I quit soon because I could not get through the opening part of the book, some six or seven pages describing a breakfast scene in meticulous detail. In my recent reading I did not feel this obstacle.This odd opening helps the reader slow down and focus. The transition in the next chapter is somewhat abrupt, and it takes a few moments to realize that the story has jumped a considerable period forward and the man of the opening passage is dead, and the woman has returned to the house. Contemplating his death, grieving, she is spooked out by a presence in the house, repeating some of his words, in actual near-identical intonation and modulation, as if she is hearing her dead husband speak.A very poetic story, thoughtful.
  • (4/5)
    This is a strange, evocative, challenging little book. DeLillo writes with flair and skill, making this a true literary voyage through a moment in the life of Lauren Hartke, the eponomous Body Artist. In essence, this book deals with a short, traumatic period in her life from her own perspective.The prose is sparse, emphasizing the loneliness and isolation of Hartke's life and artistic vocation. The opening is a masterful description of a couple dancing around each other, the minutiae of daily interaction so accurately conveyed that one could not fail to recognise it as a situation so familiar to us all. The genius of DeLillo's writing in this book is epitomised in his ability to convey through this description the loneliness and separation of these two people as they move through their married life together. It is poetry in a prose form that permeates this novel. As DeLillo describes the remaking of Hartke's body (she is an artist whose medium is her own form and physique), we see evidence of this in descriptions such as:"She had emery boards and files, many kinds of scissors, clippers and creams that activated the verbs of abridgement and incision".In the remaking of her image, we see a woman who is trying to disappear, to become "classically unseen". The nameless man who enters her life during this period is the epitome of her aims - he has achieved the bland anonimity that she so craves. As she is an art project, so we find this man becomes hers too. As she studies him and develops him, she seeks within him answers to events in her own life. In the end, the reader is left unsure whether he existed at all or was just a facet of Hartke. It is never clear how much of the world was real and how much was her own internalised world. In seeking answers to the question of the nameless man's prescient ability, is she not merely questioning whether she herself could have seen the eventual actions of others around her, whether she could have altered her own future?This is a book to be mulled over. I think I will return to it, having read it to the end, and re-read it with fresh eyes. Deserving of it's place on the '1001 Books List'.
  • (3/5)
    I chose to read this book one night at Barnes & Noble's, based solely on its small size. I hate reading halfway through a book and then the bookshop closes."The Body Artist" by Don Delillo is an odd little volume, and one of the rare books that I saw as both dreadful and brilliant all at once.When Lauren Hartke's husband Rey passes away, she is left alone with her grief in their house. The house's lease is ending a few weeks, but Lauren feels unmotivated to seek out a new one, or do much of anything else for that matter.Beginning quite a while before Rey died, she had begun hearing occasional noises coming from upstairs. Whenever she went to investigate, nothing was there. Rey assured her that it was only a squirrel or a raccoon stuck in the attic.But Karen instead finds a man in her house - an odd, simple man who is so strangely different from anyone else she has ever met, he seems almost alien-like.Despite telling herself that she wants to be alone presently, she lets the man stay, thinking that he has brain damage. Gradually, she befriends him as much as his foreign mannerisms allow. But the man begins to speak words that only Rey had ever said, in her husband's voice. He hints at things that will happen to her in the future, and seems to know things that no one but Rey could know.Who is he?The answer to this question, when put as I just described, sounds obvious. And yet, DeLillo never at any time so much as nudges the reader into thinking that the mysterious man is Rey's ghost. In fact, that solution would not make sense (or be a satisfying one) for many reasons. Karen began hearing the man making noises upstairs before her husband died. And why would the man look completely different? Why would they not recognize each other, or fall in love?This spare book was so odd. I suppose that is why I wasn't completely able to tell if I liked it or not.It certainly made an impression (especially for such a small amount of pages), and it was a distinctive work. I don't that I would be able to easily confuse it with other books that are similar when looking back on what it was about.DeLillo's writing style was quite strangely unique. Often, the sentences would cut off abruptly. Fragments and scattered thoughts were strewn through-out the story. If I had the book in front of me, I would be able to find examples, but it is still in Barnes & Noble's.For example, a character who was trying to say "Would you take the garbage out?" may instead phrase this "Garbage out. Would you."It was different.In a longer book, I may have come to appreciate it, but here, I mostly got used to it and that was that.It did evoke a certain mood in the story - one that was incomplete, broken off, and alien.Which entirely describes the story.Nothing is ever explained or solved. Who was the man? The reader is simply left to reflect on this and draw their own conclusion. While I always find endings like this intriguing, I didn't like it here. Too much was left unfinished.I felt as if I had read the first 5 chapters in a mystery book, and then suddenly it ended right when the detective was starting to piece together their first clue.This was an interesting book. Very intriguing, but I wouldn't say very good.
  • (4/5)
    A strange, psychological story about grief, and coping with the trauma of sudden loss. A fine morning nothing out of the ordinary, and a husband who drove out to his first wife's place and put a bullet through his mouth. The wife, the body artist, returns to the rented house where they spent their last days together and discovers she is not alone in the house. Has her husband "returned" in the voice of the young mentally-challenged man who has, seemingly, been occupying some hidden part of the house? Or is it merely her loneliness and imagination, and another expression of her grief the reality of which she renders effectively in artistic body performance? This is the plot, simple and streamlined, but there is something profound and mysterious in it that makes this novella a quite interesting read.
  • (1/5)
    Let me see if I can explain the plot of this book! DeLillo describes every detail of the breakfast of a husband and wife. Then the husband kills himself. The wife later finds a (psychic?) man living in her house and develops a relationship with him. It felt to me like this was written as an exercise for a creative writing class; very forced.
  • (3/5)
    Wonderful artistry with the prose style, and I've always admired DeLillo for that. I'm even willing to ignore the overwrought themes for it, this time.
  • (3/5)
    Wonderful attention to detail in the first chapter. After that, I couldn't really get into it - strange and bland at the same time.
  • (5/5)
    Suicide, or more to the point - the awful aftermath of suicide; the grief of the loved ones (in this case, the widow) left behind - would be a pretty tough sell for most works of fiction. Too depressing. Too damn real. But not in Don DeLillo's sage-like hands. He sells the devastation wrought by suicide beautifully and tenderly in The Body Artist: an existential study of time and our relationship to time as we travel through it, conveyed along for us in the imaginings (is the little miming man discovered in the third floor bedroom real or unreal?) of Lauren Hartke, and in her introspections; that is, in her deep loss and deeper longings, and ultimately in the transformative power of her art sculpted from the raw pain and suffering she endures as a recent, bewildered widow.I don't know how DeLillo does it. I feel ill-equipped describing his precise way with words. I've revised this section of the review at least ten times, knowing I'm not getting it right. I almost give up. And it's the cadence of Delillo's language too, not just the words, imbuing the words with deeper meaning. David Foster Wallace once wrote that Delillo's writing "just clicks". Expanding on that premise then, Delillo's like a metronome, hypnotic almost (but definitely not predictable despite the constant "clicking" and rhythm), and in The Body Artist, he's tapped into, and kept exquisite time with, the metaphysical. The Body Artist becomes therefore, as much a major work of philosophy as it's become a major work of fiction.What Delillo does with language evokes in me the same response I get when listening to a powerful piece of classical music: Goosebumps gallore, awe, wonder, inspiration and veneration. There's something sublime going on here in his writing that I can't quite name. Is it God? If it's not God, then it must be Art.Yes, that's what I'm driving at, in The Body Artist, Delillo has managed to translate the secret languages of the Mysterious or Metaphysical or perhaps the Divine; using the internal monologues and musings of Lauren Hartke as his mouthpiece, and making his philosophical abstractions as palpable as the pages his heady language is printed on. That Delillo's prose is unplugged in The Body Artist, acoustic, if you will, set on a simple Starbuck's stage - a one act play with few characters - proves that he can stir the soul even when his aims aren't as huge-venued or symphonic as they were in his previous, vast novel, Underworld. I'd say I enjoyed The Body Artist even more than Underworld, and even more, too, than his award winning, postmodern masterpiece, White Noise.What is a 'body artist'? To reveal that here might destroy the subtle surprise, and it's a tiny book - a novella really, full of surprises - to begin with. Before I read the book I lamely believed 'body artist' meant something regarding...tattoos. Whatever! In fact, I even tagged the book, when I first input it, with: 'tattoos,' since I've got me a tattoo or two and obviously like tattoos. I've since deleted that tag - 'tattoos' - from The Body Artist. I sure hope nobody noticed. Because body art and The Body Artist are definitely not synonymous.
  • (3/5)
    A simple, and intriguing, novella that touches on the nature of loss and redemption through it. The novella is more complex than it appears and the prose is quick, fluid, and terse. Overall, a worthwhile read.
  • (4/5)
    8/10

    Just a quite amazingly slow and deliberate read here. Hallucinatory is the best word. I feel it needs another read before I can really assess it but.. Things move excruciatingly slowly in the best of ways in this book. It felt pretty unique among everything i've read. And it makes me wonder what Don's longer works are like if this one is 125 pages yet this dense.
  • (3/5)
    Sparse story of an obsessed wife who cannot seem to let go of a husband who has committed suicide. The remote house she lives in is also haunted by a man who seems to speak with the echoes of her dead husband. A quick read more resembling a short story.
  • (4/5)
    A strange, haunting book. A woman whose husband has committed suicide returns to her home to find a strange man in the house. The man may be mentally ill, he speaks in a strange, disconnected way. But the woman starts feeling that there is something strange about his words and mannerisms and occasionally he says phrases that were spoken in the house months ago, or will be spoken in the future.The language does much to set the mood, at times stilted, cropped and even jarring and at other times incredibly poetic and evocative. I think this particular passage illuminates the language well:"She knew it was foolish to examine so closely. She was making things up. But this was the effect he had, shadow-inching through a sentence, showing a word in its facets and aspects, words like moons in particular phases."Words like moons in particular phases - wow! Or then there is this passage that also struck a chord, with the odd jarring note at the end:"Over the days she worked her body hard. There were always states to reach that surpassed previous extremes.... I think you are making your own little totalitarian society, Rey told her once, where you are the dictator, absolutely, and also the oppressed people, he said, perhaps admiringly, one artist to another."The structure of the plot is also slightly off-kilter, with sudden shifts and long passages of meditative, droning prose. Overall its a bizarre and oddly unresolved story. I liked it!