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The Barnes & Noble Review In whatever form Don DeLillo chooses to write, there is simply no other American author who has so consistently pushed the boundaries of fiction in his effort to capture the zeitgeist. In The Body Artist, DeLillo tells the hallucinatory tale of performance artist Lauren Hartke in the days following the suicide of her husband, filmmaker Rey Robles. The Barnes & Noble Review In whatever form Don DeLillo chooses to write, there is simply no other American author who has so consistently pushed the boundaries of fiction in his effort to capture the zeitgeist. In The Body Artist, DeLillo tells the hallucinatory tale of performance artist Lauren Hartke in the days following the suicide of her husband, filmmaker Rey Robles. Finishing out their lease of a rented house on the coast, living in a self-imposed exile, Lauren discovers a mysterious man in the bedroom upstairs who is able to repeat -- verbatim -- entire conversations she had with her husband before his death but does not seem to know his own name or where he happens to come from. DeLillo's emphasis on behavior and the inadequacies of language in The Body Artist will remind readers more of his plays (Valparaiso, The Day Room) than of his novels, and yet, in just a few pages -- 128, as compared to the sweeping, masterful Underworld's 800-plus -- DeLillo still manages to draw a rich portrait of contemporary American life in all its quotidian glory. Describing Lauren in the kitchen on the morning her husband will commit suicide, he writes, "She took the kettle back to the stove because this is how you live a life even if you don't know it." In this opening scene, Lauren and Rey silently struggle to assign meaning and relevance to an ordinary moment. They have a routine; they know what comes next. But they can't say what it is. They seem cut off from their own actions. How do you articulate the emotion that accompanies eating breakfast with your spouse? As Rey puts it, "I want to say something but what." When they finish eating, Rey drives to his ex-wife's apartment in Manhattan to kill himself. The question remains open as to whether or not the strange man (whom Lauren affectionately names Mr. Tuttle, after an English teacher of hers, when she finds him upstairs) exists at all, or if he is merely a figment of her imagination. But Mr. Tuttle's origins are entirely beside the point. He has no origins. He defies description. He is neither old nor young. "Maybe this man experiences another kind of reality where he is here and there, before and after." And leave it to DeLillo to connect this enigma to the Internet. There is a live, 24-hour web site Lauren enjoys viewing: It shows an empty road in Kotka, Finland. Occasionally a car drives by or a person crosses the screen, but generally nothing happens. Lauren is fascinated by the notion that across the globe, at this very moment, this is happening, an episode "real enough to withstand the circumstance of nothing going on." This may also be the best way to describe The Body Artist, a book in which "it all happens around the word seem." In DeLillo's unique brand of lucid, albeit elliptical, prose, The Body Artist addresses the very questions Gauguin inscribed on his famous painting: Who am I? Where do I come from? Where am I going? Lauren Hartke answers these questions by transforming the absurdities of her daily life -- that hours can seem long or short and still be hours; how a thing can look like something other than itself -- into a beautiful, suggestive live performance. Through her art, Lauren transcends the limits of language and body, approaching an understanding of her husband's death and more clearly discerning her own original nature. And in a brilliant act of spiritual ventriloquism, DeLillo, "the poet of lonely places," dresses himself up in this character, placing us in the extreme situation of her search for an experience of meaning she can call living.


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The Barnes & Noble Review In whatever form Don DeLillo chooses to write, there is simply no other American author who has so consistently pushed the boundaries of fiction in his effort to capture the zeitgeist. In The Body Artist, DeLillo tells the hallucinatory tale of performance artist Lauren Hartke in the days following the suicide of her husband, filmmaker Rey Robles. The Barnes & Noble Review In whatever form Don DeLillo chooses to write, there is simply no other American author who has so consistently pushed the boundaries of fiction in his effort to capture the zeitgeist. In The Body Artist, DeLillo tells the hallucinatory tale of performance artist Lauren Hartke in the days following the suicide of her husband, filmmaker Rey Robles. Finishing out their lease of a rented house on the coast, living in a self-imposed exile, Lauren discovers a mysterious man in the bedroom upstairs who is able to repeat -- verbatim -- entire conversations she had with her husband before his death but does not seem to know his own name or where he happens to come from. DeLillo's emphasis on behavior and the inadequacies of language in The Body Artist will remind readers more of his plays (Valparaiso, The Day Room) than of his novels, and yet, in just a few pages -- 128, as compared to the sweeping, masterful Underworld's 800-plus -- DeLillo still manages to draw a rich portrait of contemporary American life in all its quotidian glory. Describing Lauren in the kitchen on the morning her husband will commit suicide, he writes, "She took the kettle back to the stove because this is how you live a life even if you don't know it." In this opening scene, Lauren and Rey silently struggle to assign meaning and relevance to an ordinary moment. They have a routine; they know what comes next. But they can't say what it is. They seem cut off from their own actions. How do you articulate the emotion that accompanies eating breakfast with your spouse? As Rey puts it, "I want to say something but what." When they finish eating, Rey drives to his ex-wife's apartment in Manhattan to kill himself. The question remains open as to whether or not the strange man (whom Lauren affectionately names Mr. Tuttle, after an English teacher of hers, when she finds him upstairs) exists at all, or if he is merely a figment of her imagination. But Mr. Tuttle's origins are entirely beside the point. He has no origins. He defies description. He is neither old nor young. "Maybe this man experiences another kind of reality where he is here and there, before and after." And leave it to DeLillo to connect this enigma to the Internet. There is a live, 24-hour web site Lauren enjoys viewing: It shows an empty road in Kotka, Finland. Occasionally a car drives by or a person crosses the screen, but generally nothing happens. Lauren is fascinated by the notion that across the globe, at this very moment, this is happening, an episode "real enough to withstand the circumstance of nothing going on." This may also be the best way to describe The Body Artist, a book in which "it all happens around the word seem." In DeLillo's unique brand of lucid, albeit elliptical, prose, The Body Artist addresses the very questions Gauguin inscribed on his famous painting: Who am I? Where do I come from? Where am I going? Lauren Hartke answers these questions by transforming the absurdities of her daily life -- that hours can seem long or short and still be hours; how a thing can look like something other than itself -- into a beautiful, suggestive live performance. Through her art, Lauren transcends the limits of language and body, approaching an understanding of her husband's death and more clearly discerning her own original nature. And in a brilliant act of spiritual ventriloquism, DeLillo, "the poet of lonely places," dresses himself up in this character, placing us in the extreme situation of her search for an experience of meaning she can call living.

30 review for The Body Artist

  1. 5 out of 5

    s.penkevich

    ‘'Maybe the idea is to think of time differently. Stop time, or stretch it out, or open it up. Make a still life that's living, not painted.’ In every instant of our waking lives we are experiencing the world around us through all our five senses. In order to process and share these experiences, we cage our perceptions up in words—abstract signifiers with an assumed weight of meaning. However, language is frail. fallible and full of holes, delivering us a beast behind bars, a caged animal at the ‘'Maybe the idea is to think of time differently. Stop time, or stretch it out, or open it up. Make a still life that's living, not painted.’ In every instant of our waking lives we are experiencing the world around us through all our five senses. In order to process and share these experiences, we cage our perceptions up in words—abstract signifiers with an assumed weight of meaning. However, language is frail. fallible and full of holes, delivering us a beast behind bars, a caged animal at the zoo, restless and submissive rather than the wild, raw power of a creature at one in its natural habitat and able to roam free through our senses. Don DeLillo’s brief novel, The Body Artist (2001), brings to life the limitations of language to pinpoint experience and further examines this notion in light of a technology-infused modern society through the frighteningly intense introspective plunge of the grief and loneliness that befalls Lauren Hartke after the death of her husband. DeLillo conducts a quiet symphony of pitch-perfect prose to steal the heart as well as crack the shell of concepts such as time and language and masterfully serves us a delicious platter of the abstract implications that hide within. This is a novel about abstractions in a world of impermanence and a white noise of Being that buzzes like an aging fridge all around us, and a novel about the state of metamorphosis. Through Lauren Hartke, a nearly parasitic being that absorbs the world around her to explore the vicissitudes of life, DeLillo uncrates a haunting and surreal existential discourse on time and how language assesses being, effortlessly encapsulating the alienation and anguish of post-modern humanity in this age of technology. ‘Everything is slow and hazy and drained and it all happens around the word seemed.’ Jacques Derrida wrote that ‘il n'ya pas de hors texte (there is nothing outside the text).’ There are many facets to this statement, namely (and I apologize for bastardizing the ideas of deconstructionism is such shamefully simplistic and faulty manner that does not even probe beneath the surface of the ideas) that authorial intent is overruled by the inherent meaning of words as themselves, and that meaning resides in the rhetorical usage of language with regards to historical context, grammar and vocabulary. Words become a tricky subject that exist in a life beyond our complete control and can only be hoped to be harnessed and rode like a wild stallion across the prairies of pages; words are are method of transporting experience to others and therefore experience must be reigned by language and subjected to its shortcomings of placing an abstract into a signifier. ‘No single word,’ wrote Derrida, ‘ out of context, can by itself ever translate another word perfectly.’ Words are rife with meaning, a tree full with the fruits of connotation, denotation and intention, each specific and unique, yet to perfectly harness our intentions it would require an exhaustive examination of each word to be sure we are ushering the reader to experience the exact same principals of the experience we are trying to imply. It is also important to keep in mind that the word is not the thing, only a signpost pointing towards the thing-in-itself. It is an abstract array of sounds agreed upon as an indentifier. When we say ‘dog’, for example, we don’t paint a clear image of a dog—what kind of dog, what color, or even if we mean dog-like, but mostly just rule out that we don’t mean, say, a cat or a giraffe (once again, forgive the shallow discussion on Derrida’s différance and the examples from Ferdinand de Saussure’s discourses on semiology. I’m painting with broad strokes that can lead to dangerous misinterpretation, but the general idea is important to the understanding of the novel). In The Body Artist, DeLillo highlights the zone where experience and language fail to match up, the feelings that life embodies but language falls short of harnessing. It is a book about ‘seems’, a book about the abstract, the moments unlocked from time and space and plot. The opening scene is a perfect example of Hartke’s ‘living still life’, a scene that is brilliant on its own and would function flawlessly as a short story if shorn from the remainder of the novel. The scene focuses on Hartke having breakfast at home with her husband, Rey Robles, mere hours before his suicide in the living space of a former wife. The scene is practically still, only several minutes lapsing over the few pages, allowing time to stretch open and reveal all the latent implications and overlooked sensory perceptions to the reader because ‘this is how you live a life even if you don’t know it.’ Practically without realizing it, Hartke is assessing the world around her and processing it through language, from the taste of the breeze to the ‘cardboard orange aroma’ of the orange juice container—and immensely brilliant collection of words that borders on near-nonsense in order to more accurately express how much of our sensory experience defies perfect linguistic explanation. This is further exemplified by smells that escape definition: Nothing described it. It was pure smell. It was the thing that smell is, apart from all sources...it was as though some, maybe, medieval scholastic had attempted to classify all known odors and had found something that did not fit into his system… Even the sound of birds humming outside the window are obliged to be caged in familiar and examinable language. The birds broke off the feeder in a wing-whir that was all b’s and r’s, the letter b followed by a series of vibrato r’s. But that wasn’t it at all. That wasn’t anything like it. Try as we might, language is a poor substitute for earnest experience and our state of being is stifled by our need to understand, share and examine it through linguistic policy. Language becomes a stand-in for an idea, but it is more akin to a child playing dress-up as the idea rather than the idea being-in-itself. This is most notable when Hartke mistakes a paint can for a man. When the car moved past the house...she understood that she was not looking at a seated man but at a paint can placed on a board that was balanced between two chairs. The white and yellow can was his face, the board was his arms and the mind and heart of the man were in the air somewhere already lost in the voice of the news reader on the radio. Lauren Hartke is herself an avant-garde artist like her husband, an acclaimed surrealist filmmaker. As a ‘body artist’, she examines the flux of life through her art, exemplifying them through artistic and shocking changes in her body, finding inspiration in the world around her. Things she saw seemed doubtful—not doubtful but ever changing,plunged into metamorphosis, something that is also something else, but what, and what? DeLillo keeps the novel focused on the state of transformation, embodying the idea through Hartke’s alteration after the death of her husband. She is nearly a parasitic creature, drawing her strength from the world and people around her. In the opening scene it is apparent that Rey keeps eye on her health, ensuring she eats and drinks, and that she seems to define herself through his existence. Hartke feeds off him and his care. ‘She was too trim and limber to feel the strain, only echoing Rey, identifying, groaning his groan, but in a manner so seamless and deep it was her discomfort too.’ But what is art but an echo, a reaction, to the world around you. Her art feast upon and is inspired by reality, taking natural life and twisting it into surrealistic performances that unlock the inherent meaning of Being in ways that language cannot do. After his death she stops eating and begins to waste away, literally and figuratively. ‘Now he was smoke, Rey was, the thing in the air, vaporous, drifting into every space sooner or later, unshaped…’ Nothing is permanent in this world and with his impermanence, she too feels her own sense of impermanence. She is removed of her safety net, and is like the ‘life in midair, turning,’ that she sees outside her window, spinning aimlessly without a thread to something firm to ground it. However, it is this entrance into the void that becomes her new inspiration, her knew way of reading the implications of the world and honing her art on the state of flux and metamorphasis she finds in her own life. Through her loneliness and alienation from the world, she discovers her form. ‘There has to be an imaginary point, a non-place where language intersects with our perceptions of time and space, and he is a stranger at this crossing, without words or bearings.’ Hartke also discovers Mr. Tuttle, who may or may not exist, in the upper levels of her home. He speaks and acts ‘like a man anonymous to himself’, removed from time and place, and is even able to perfectly match her and Rey’s voice and recite their final conversations together. Mr. Tuttle is the pockmarked, teenage state of language, language still forming and taking shape both theoretically and biologically, and emphasized by her naming him after a high school biology teacher. Mr. Tuttle ‘violates the limits of the human’ and seems unstuck from time and space. He is language in a pure sense, not beholden to the constraints of the universe and the clock. There’s a code in the simplest conversation that tells the speakers what’s going on outside the bare acoustics, This was missing when they talked. There was a missing beat...There were no grades of emphasis here and flatness there. She began to understand that their talks had no time sense and that all the references at the unspoken level...was missing here His voice comes out flat and without facial expressions to register emotion, paralleled by the synthetic voice on Hartke’s friend’s answering machine. ‘Please / leave / a message / af / ter / the / tone.’ This is an age of technology and advances of artificial intelligence, and it is intriguing to think of a computer, a lifeless machine, interacting in lifelike ways and having to also utilize language the way we do to process and deliver information. Mr. Tuttle is just that, language, devoid of the human emotion and unstuck from time. Technology plays a large part in this slim novel, especially with regards to Hartke’s feelings of alienation. Computers and technology give us access to the world at our fingertips, just a click of a button and she is staring at a live feed of a Scandinavian interstate yet still she feels disconnected from people and lonely. There is daily news from around the world to which she can osmose emotion, yet there is still a disconnect¹ ‘All plots tend to move deathward,’ DeLillo wrote in his quintessential masterpiece White Noise. Plot and time are imperative here, too, in The Body Artist. ‘You are made out of time. This is the force that tells you who you are. Close your eyes and feel it. It is time that defines you.’ We are strapped to our timeline, finite beings whose story plays out in an orderly, plot-like fashion when seen as a set of points from birth to death; time takes life and ‘[writes] it like a line in fiction.’ Each point is part of an arc of change, and The Body Artist is like a second derivative in math, opening up each individual point in time to view the changes therein. We are constantly in a state of flux, constantly aware of the ticking hands, yet with Mr. Tuttle we see how events can be viewed ‘outside of time’, as events-in-themselves. If we stopped and slowed down, if we saw our life like a bowl of oranges in an ornate frame, what would we make of our individual moments? The Body Artist asks this question of us, being concerned not with where a plot is heading, but the metamorphosis that ensues along the journey. The final sections, including an editorial review of Lauren Hartke’s performance, tie the themes of language and change together upon the stage and makes them dance beautifully for the reader. Don DeLillo is an author that really knocks it out of the park for me when he is at the top of his game, and there are some fantastic existential quandaries brought to life through perfectly polished and flawlessly fluid sentences. Part ghost story, part linguistic and metaphysical metaphorical dissertation, The Body Artist is a slim powerhouse of ideas that is sure to charm the intellect and send the reader racing for more DeLillo. 4.5/5 ‘Past, present and future are not amenities of language. Time unfolds into the seams of being. It passes through you, making and shaping.’ ¹ Sherry Turkle’s Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other is an excellent and insightful investigation into the DeLillo-esk implications of a post-modern technology reliant society and how it breeds human alienation. The story goes, according to the story I heard on NPR’s Radiolab, that Turkle fully endorsed technology and social media as an advancement in human interaction until the fateful day that she took her grad students on a field trip to a nursing home to watch the elderly people staying there interact with a ‘hairless seal’ robot that was designed to mimic empathy and respond to emotion. Turkle and her students were horrified, believing these dying people deserved more than simulated empathy and companionship in their twilight hours, and she began to examine life and technology from the other side. A worthwhile and intriguing book.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Paul Bryant

    THERE'S 1000 STORIES IN THE CITY OF GOODREADS - THIS IS ONE OF THEM - Yes, Another Dreadful Reviewer/Author Encounter I surfaced into consciousness unwillingly like a resurrecting Jesus with too much alimony to pay. A slap to the chin and I remembered whose cleancut chiselled features were going to be framing the next supercilious question. "Feeling better, Mr Bryant?" Yes, of course. It was The Don. But I wasn't going to go quietly. "Not really, you post-modern gargoyle of unmeaning. You can tak THERE'S 1000 STORIES IN THE CITY OF GOODREADS - THIS IS ONE OF THEM - Yes, Another Dreadful Reviewer/Author Encounter I surfaced into consciousness unwillingly like a resurrecting Jesus with too much alimony to pay. A slap to the chin and I remembered whose cleancut chiselled features were going to be framing the next supercilious question. "Feeling better, Mr Bryant?" Yes, of course. It was The Don. But I wasn't going to go quietly. "Not really, you post-modern gargoyle of unmeaning. You can take your silvery convolutions of ungrammatical feverdreams and shove them where the sun has never shone in a cavern measureless to man down to a sunless sea, O Felchmeister of the English tongue." Crack. That was my head bouncing off the dingy walls of whatever foul rag and bone shop DeLillo had me banged me up in. "Less of your mouth, and more of mine," he sneered. I felt two pairs of strong arms grip me from each side. I caught a glimpse of DeLillo's vile acolytes. Just as I guessed. Steve Erickson on one side and yep, the notorious transvestite Bret Easton Ellis (“Bretsy” to his friends, of which there aren’t any) on the other. They were giggling like schoolgirls. “Oooh, the things he said about me, and in public!” “Oooh, let’s do page 149 and then page 301!” "You won't get away with this," I grunted. "We will, you know, we aren't in the YA business and we're not going to blog about this!" hissed Bretsy. The Don told them to shut up and they squeaked into silence. It was pretty clear to me that there were American postmodern novelists and there was The Don. His very eyebrow had been reviewed ecstatically in the NYRB more times than all the others' entire sets of genitalia. And they knew it. And now he was heating up a pair of ordinary garden secateurs over a pile of remaindered early Franzen novels ( the ones before Oprah spotted him). “Snip snip, Mr Bryant. One snip for every nasty little thing you said about me in your nasty reviews, and one more for encouraging your friends to mock me in surrealistic boxing match fantasies, and a final little snip for my two good buddies who have been really quite hurt by the dreadful things you say. I suppose you wish us all to write like your precious but sadly dead Raymond Carver? Hmm? ‘And then this sad alcoholic fell over and then this other sad alcoholic went shopping for a mop. The end.’ Is that it? That’s how you want us all to write?” I was about to demolish his crude travesties of my crude travesties of his and his good buddies’ rancid fictions – I had vowed wild horses wouldn’t get me to remind him that I’d given five stars to Libra – but the application of the secateurs to my dorsal extremeties put an end to rational thought. I heard the terrible giggling of Bretsy – “Just one more finger, please! Hee hee!” and I pitched back into the welcome abyss of no more book reviews ever.

  3. 5 out of 5

    L.S. Popovich

    A sensual, hyper-real Delillian song. Donnie's poetic prose lilts in sustained focus through ghostly sibilance, sinusoidally evocative and throb-inducing. A brief encounter and a drawn-out epiphany. An instant under a microscope reveals such texture as the merely human eye cannot perceive. The hero of this novel is the author. Its heroine a quintessential artistic martyr. The protagonist embodies human transformations, encounters death, stews in it, and with palpable empathy, construes it into art A sensual, hyper-real Delillian song. Donnie's poetic prose lilts in sustained focus through ghostly sibilance, sinusoidally evocative and throb-inducing. A brief encounter and a drawn-out epiphany. An instant under a microscope reveals such texture as the merely human eye cannot perceive. The hero of this novel is the author. Its heroine a quintessential artistic martyr. The protagonist embodies human transformations, encounters death, stews in it, and with palpable empathy, construes it into art. Should an artist live in the world of their art? The story might have elapsed forever, unfolding into silent voids. The book is haunted, beware, but its slow regard of human animals will thrill like any previous susurration from the pen of this American maestro.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Violet wells

    The Body Artist is ostensibly a ghost story. It’s a novel about our relationship with the ghost world behind time and language. The prose itself seems to alter the maths of time with its pauses, rewindings, ellipses and fast forwardings. He slows down the minutiae of kitchen and bathroom ritual and resonates all the mystery there. The body is often his canvas and he shows us through its needs, rituals and reactions just how mysterious everyday life is. Few living writers can write sentences as b The Body Artist is ostensibly a ghost story. It’s a novel about our relationship with the ghost world behind time and language. The prose itself seems to alter the maths of time with its pauses, rewindings, ellipses and fast forwardings. He slows down the minutiae of kitchen and bathroom ritual and resonates all the mystery there. The body is often his canvas and he shows us through its needs, rituals and reactions just how mysterious everyday life is. Few living writers can write sentences as beautifully sculpted and glazed as DeLillo. Here are some of my favourite quotes from this novel: “At night the sky was very near, sprawled in star smoke and gamma cataclysms, but she didn't see it the way she used to, as soul extension, dumb guttural wonder, a thing that lived outside language in the oldest part of her.” “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 was agreeable to her, the smell of tobacco. It was part of her knowledge of his body. It was the aura of the man, a residue of smoke and unbroken habit, a dimension in the night, and she lapped it off the curled gray hairs on his chest and tasted it in his mouth. It was who he was in the dark, cigarettes and mumbled sleep and a hundred other things nameable and not.” “They passed out of the shade beneath the eaves and flew into sunglare and silence and it was an action she only partly saw, elusive and mutely beautiful, the birds so sunstruck they were consumed by light, disembodied, turned into something sheer and fleet and scatter-bright.” “But it can't be true that he drifts from one reality to another, independent of the logic of time. This is not possible. You are made out of time. This is the force that tells you who you are. Close your eyes and feel it. It is time that defines your existence.” Her eyes had to adjust to the night sky. She walked away from the house, out of the spill of electric light, and the sky grew deeper. She watched for a long time and it began to spread and melt and go deeper still, developing strata and magnitudes and light-years in numbers so unapproachable that someone had to invent idiot names to represent the arrays of ones and zeros and powers and dominations because only the bedtime language of childhood can save us from awe and shame.”

  5. 4 out of 5

    Ahmad Sharabiani

    The body artist: a novel, Don DeLillo The Body Artist is a novella written in 2001 by Don DeLillo. It explores the grieving process of a young performance artist, Lauren Hartke, following the suicide of her significantly older husband. The novella is sometimes described as a ghost story due to the appearance of an enigmatic figure that Lauren discovers hiding in an upstairs room of the house following her husband's death. تاریخ نخستین خوانش: هشتم ماه اکتبر سال 2008 میلادی عنوان: بادی آرتیست؛ اثر: د The body artist: a novel, Don DeLillo The Body Artist is a novella written in 2001 by Don DeLillo. It explores the grieving process of a young performance artist, Lauren Hartke, following the suicide of her significantly older husband. The novella is sometimes described as a ghost story due to the appearance of an enigmatic figure that Lauren discovers hiding in an upstairs room of the house following her husband's death. تاریخ نخستین خوانش: هشتم ماه اکتبر سال 2008 میلادی عنوان: بادی آرتیست؛ اثر: دان دلیلو؛ مترجم: منصوره وفایی؛ مشخصات نشر: «نشر نی، 1386، در 108 ص، شابک: 9643128857»؛ موضوع: داستانهای نویسندگان آمریکایی قرن 20 م انگار به نمایش در «انتظار گودو»ی ساموئل بکت بی شباهت نیست. منتقدی خواندن فصل آغازین همین کتاب را به جستجوی چیزی در تاریک روشنای صبحگاهی اتاق، آن هم پیش از نوشیدن یک فنجان قهوه، تشبیه میکند. ساختار «بادی آرتیست» بی شباهت به هایکو نیست. فصول این رمان مثل جمله های کوتاه دوپهلویی ست که با هم چفت نمیشوند، و همیشه مرز باریک و خیال انگیز میانشان احساس میشود. بخوانید: روز سفید مه آلودی ست، و بزرگراه تا آسمان خشکیده بالا میرود. چهار باند شمالی دارد، و تو در باند سوم میرانی و ماشینها جلواند، و پشت سر و دو طرف، اما نه خیلی زیاد و نه خیلی نزدیک. بالای سراشیبی که میرسی چیزی اتفاق میافتد و حالاست که دیگر ماشینها بی عجله میروند. انگار خود به خود رانده میشوند. نرم با دنده خلاص بر روی آن سطح پایین میروند. همه چیز کند است و مه آلود و خشکیده و همه ی اینها حول انگار اتفاق میافتد. همه ی ماشینها از جمله مال تو، انگار، بریده بریده حرکت میکنند، حضورشان را نشان میدهند یا خود را به رخ میکشند، و بزرگراه میان همهمه ی سفیدی امتداد مییابد. بعد حس و حال عوض میشود. سر و صدا و هیاهو و شلوغی پشت سر اند و تو که درد سنگینی را روی قفسه ی سینه ات احساس میکنی دوباره به زندگی کشانده میشوی. پایان نقل. ا. شربیانی

  6. 5 out of 5

    Edward Lorn

    If you plan to read this after reading my review, you should know a few things. This is a long short story. The hardcover was $22.00. On Amazon, the paperback is $11.93. And the Kindle version is $7.99. For round about 60 pages. I say round about because the typesetting in the hardcover has to be close to 16 point, and the text is damn near double spaced. Took me an hour to read the hardcover version, which is 124 pages. One hour. I did not, however, pay $22 for the hardcover. I found it at a ch If you plan to read this after reading my review, you should know a few things. This is a long short story. The hardcover was $22.00. On Amazon, the paperback is $11.93. And the Kindle version is $7.99. For round about 60 pages. I say round about because the typesetting in the hardcover has to be close to 16 point, and the text is damn near double spaced. Took me an hour to read the hardcover version, which is 124 pages. One hour. I did not, however, pay $22 for the hardcover. I found it at a charity shop for a quarter. What you're going to have to figure out for yourself is how you value art. Some galleries charge at the door for showings. You get to wander around for an hour for fifty bucks and, at the end, you have the chance to buy one of the paintings, but that half-a-Franklin gets you nothing but that initial tour. It doesn't guarantee you get any of the art. And those paintings? Well, they can fetch millions for what amounts to some canvas and paint. Depending on where you sit, some concerts charge $100 for a two hour show. Same with baseball games that last two or three hours. So how do you value art? Are you a substance over style kinda guy or gal? If so, you might want to skip this book, because, baby, it's all style. Don Delillo is a wonderful writer. This is my first taste of his prose and I'm a fan. I dug the surreal quality of this piece, even if I struggled at times separating Lauren's art from reality. Her grieving sequences are heart-wrenchingly well done. But, I cannot say this enough, you must come for the writing. Simply stunning. In summation: If you need a plot, stay away. If you want a piece of art to mull over, this is well worth the price of admission. The brevity of the piece helps the reader to digest the whole, and makes repeat reads a welcome idea. Highly recommended, but only to the right crowd. Final Judgment: A masterstroke.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Ian "Marvin" Graye

    CRITIQUE: Public and Private Spheres Up to the point of "Underworld", Don Delillo seemed to be simultaneously interested in the public sphere and the private sphere of the participants in the public sphere. When it comes to personal relationships, we see mother and son, brother to brother, husband and wife, spouse/self and extramarital lover. In "Underworld" itself, the private sphere grew so interesting that it almost took over the book and its focus on baseball, nuclear weapons and waste. DeLillo CRITIQUE: Public and Private Spheres Up to the point of "Underworld", Don Delillo seemed to be simultaneously interested in the public sphere and the private sphere of the participants in the public sphere. When it comes to personal relationships, we see mother and son, brother to brother, husband and wife, spouse/self and extramarital lover. In "Underworld" itself, the private sphere grew so interesting that it almost took over the book and its focus on baseball, nuclear weapons and waste. DeLillo became increasingly interested in the Bronx of his own youth. For the first time, one of his novels was almost autobiographical. "The Body Artist" was his first novel after the publication of "Underworld", and he continued his interest in the personal sphere. "This is Art, Sex, Aggression, Cultural Criticism and Truth" The eponymous body artist is 36 year old Lauren Hartke, who is the third wife of 64 year old film director, Rey Robles, born Alejandro Alquezar in Barcelona. He directed two "world-renowned" movies in the late 1970’s, while one of his films, "My Life for Yours", won the Palm d’Or. His next film, "Polaris", mixed American crime drama and Spanish surrealism, and became an art house success with a cult following. Fictional film critic Philip Stansky wrote, "His work at its best extends the language of film. His subject is people in landscapes of estrangement. He found a spiritual knife-edge in the poetry of alien places, where extreme situations become inevitable and characters are forced toward life-defining moments." His subsequent films were commercial and critical failures, which were partly a result of alcoholism and intermittent depression. "This Strange Contained Reality" By the time we encounter Rey, he is about to leave their rented beach house to return to New York, in order to commit suicide. Rey and Lauren circle each other in the kitchen while they prepare and eat breakfast. They observe objects closely, but not each other. They struggle to find a language with which to communicate. Lauren concentrates on reading the Sunday newspaper, "the strange contained reality of paper and ink seeps through the house for a week and when you look at a page and distinguish one line from another it begins to gather you into it and there are people being tortured halfway around the world, who speak another language..." Other people live "somewhere in the words" of the newspaper, which distracts and estranges them (or at least reinforces their estrangement). Lauren is most conscious of Rey's body, "the aura of the man, a residue of smoke and unbroken habit". These are physical, if not emotional òr spiritual, details. "Sometimes she doesn't think of what she wants to say to him until he walks out of whatever room they're in. Then she thinks of it. Then she either calls after him or doesn't and he responds or doesn't." We, the readers, learn of Rey's death by reading a fictional newspaper article at the end of the first chapter, in which we hear about his discovery of a "spiritual knife-edge in alien places", although it seems that this knife-edge slices through familiar people and places as well. Mr. Tuttle Post-suicide, Lauren continues to walk absent-mindedly through the beach-house. One day (as had occurred three months before when Rey was there), she hears a noise upstairs. This time it turns out to be a young boy, "medicated maybe", sitting on the edge of the bed in his underwear: "He had a foundling quality". He was like a cross between a squatter and an idiot savant: "She tried not to press him for information. She found the distance interesting, the halting quality of his speech and actions, the self-taught quality, his seeming unconcern about what would happen to him now. Not apathy or indifference, she thought, but his limited ability to consider the implications. She wasn't sure what it meant to him, being found in someone else's house." Names and Numbers Lauren gives the boy the name "Mr. Tuttle" after her science teacher, because she thought "it would make him easier to see." Names and numbers have always been vital to DeLillo's understanding of language and communication. Soon Lauren realises that the boy has overheard her disconnected conversations with Rey, has memorized them, and is able to repeat them verbatim, even if he doesn't comprehend their meaning. Just because he is able to mimic those whom he hears, doesn't mean that the mere utterance of language is an act of communication. He's missing the code that turns language into a social bond: "There's a code in the simplest conversation that tells the speakers what's going on outside the bare acoustics. This was missing when they talked...She lost touch with him..." It's interesting that DeLillo and the "body artist" discuss this semiotic code in terms of the language of touch or sensation. "The Thing is Communicated Somehow" Then she extrapolates: "Maybe this man is defenceless against the truth of the world." How can there be truth without consensus? Equally, "there is nothing he can do to imagine time existing in reassuring sequence, passing, flowing, happening – the world happens, it has to, we feel it – with names and dates and distinctions... "His future is unnamed. It is simultaneous, somehow, with the present. Neither happens before or after the other and they are equally accessible, perhaps, if only in his mind." She suspects that he must be in a different state of being to her and other people: "She didn't think his eye was able to search out and shape things. Not like normal anyway. The eye is supposed to shape and process and paint. It tells us a story we want to believe." So he is unable to name anything, let alone to tell a story, which consists of "the standard sun-kissed chronology of events...It is time that defines your existence." He can't even name himself..."like a man anonymous to himself." She concludes that "there were no stirrings of tremulous self...The thing that made them higher, made them modern, the gaze that demonstrates we are lonely in our souls..." "He is in another structure, another culture, where time is something like itself, sheer and bare, empty of shelter." She thinks of him as a "surplus of vulnerability" and wonders whether he feels lonely. "Maybe It Was All An Erotic Reverie" Even though they can't communicate, for both Lauren and DeLillo, "there is a story, a flow of consciousness and possibility. The future comes into being." And so a novel, or at least a novella, came into being. Or perhaps it's the story of Lauren’s most recent introspective performance piece? SOUNDTRACK: (view spoiler)[ Bob Dylan - "Idiot Wind" (NYC Session) https://youtu.be/eBLViMLws10 Bob Dylan - "Buckets of Rain" https://youtu.be/jGsOmKZXDvo Robyn Hitchcock - "Not Dark Yet" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YwQup... Jimmy Lafave - "Not Dark Yet" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ky-Nb... (hide spoiler)]

  8. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    This is the third Don DiLillo book that I’ve read. I read White Noise in college, right along with everyone else, and thought it was a truly a modern classic, just like everybody else. Then, in graduate school, I also read Libra in a 500-level literature class called “Post Post Modern Fiction.” I thought it was terrible, although my reaction might have been warped the two utterly heartbreaking three-hour sessions my MA Literature classmates spent tearing the book apart, one-upping each other’s v This is the third Don DiLillo book that I’ve read. I read White Noise in college, right along with everyone else, and thought it was a truly a modern classic, just like everybody else. Then, in graduate school, I also read Libra in a 500-level literature class called “Post Post Modern Fiction.” I thought it was terrible, although my reaction might have been warped the two utterly heartbreaking three-hour sessions my MA Literature classmates spent tearing the book apart, one-upping each other’s vocabulary usage, and saying silly things about books in general. You might even say they tore tore the book apart. I have mixed feelings about The Body Artist. It’s a slim, sparse book centered on a performance artist, Lauren, who is grieving for her late husband. In the wake of his death, a strange man (Ghost? Hobo?) appears in her house, acts really weird, and then disappears. On the positive side, the book is beautifully written - it reads more like a prose poem then a novel. The majority of the book is spent inside Lauren’s head and DiLillo has just plain weird ability to capture how people spend time alone with themselves: “She cleaned the bathroom, using the spray-gun bottle of disinfectant. Then she held the nozzle of the spray gun to her head, seeing herself as anyone might do, alone, without special reference to the person’s circumstances. It was the pine-scent bottle, the pistol-grip bottle of tile-and-grout cleaner, killer of mildew, and she held the nozzle to her head, finger pressed to the plastic trigger, with her tongue hanging out for effect. This is what people do, she thought, alone in their lives.” He also does an admirable job playing with time and perception - repeated actions, lines of dialogue, and images cement the airy-but-claustrophobic feel of the book and give it even more of the feel of a prose poem, as do the short second-person vignettes at the beginning of each chapter. It is, in all ways, pretty. On the other hand, the book does suffer from a few issues that I also picked up on in his other books - he can be a little heavy-handed at times with the themes of the book. Sometimes it feels like he’s shouting, “This book is about time and perception! And heart ache! Just in case you still don’t get it, I’ll make Lauren’s last name is Hartke (Hart Take! Heart Take! Heart Ache!) and I’ll have her do a performance art piece at the end of the book that summarizes the themes of the book all over again, in case you missed them.” It also comes down to a problem I often have with poetry - the actual plot of the story is so vague and stylized that I often didn’t understand what’s happening. Even the major reviews I read of the book contradict one another when it comes to basic plot points. Is the man in her home a figment of her imagination, a ghost, a homeless man, or her actual husband? I don’t mind subtly or delicacy, but I do like to sorta kinda know what’s going on. Or at least get a few hints? And don’t say, “It is what is it” or “It is what you want it to be” or “who he is isn’t important” because I think those are all cheap cop-outs. Either way, what it comes down to is that DiLillo can write a sentence and create an atmosphere. I’ve heard I should read “Underworld” before I judge any further.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Steven Godin

    A minimalistic, intimate and slightly odd look at the grieving process of Lauren, who after her husband takes his own life returns to their home on the coast of New England to be alone only to discover a strange man hiding out in one of rooms, but just who is he and how long has he been there?.This reads as a modern ghost story and a meditation of time with a profound sense of isolation from the rest of the living. There is this eerie feeling hanging over everything which keeps what little story A minimalistic, intimate and slightly odd look at the grieving process of Lauren, who after her husband takes his own life returns to their home on the coast of New England to be alone only to discover a strange man hiding out in one of rooms, but just who is he and how long has he been there?.This reads as a modern ghost story and a meditation of time with a profound sense of isolation from the rest of the living. There is this eerie feeling hanging over everything which keeps what little story there is above par, as a fan of DeLillo this is probably his least accessible work. Best read in one sitting.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Alex

    A very strange book. I don't know how to even review it. This book opens with a couple: Rey an old filmmaker and Lauren a body artist, quite recently wed, having their breakfast at their home. This scene is very interesting, confusing and strange. They converse, but neither are listening. They want to talk more, but they don't know what. Lauren is fascinated by the birds that come to visit them and she doesn't listen to what Rey says to her. She talks to him about a strange sound in the house, a A very strange book. I don't know how to even review it. This book opens with a couple: Rey an old filmmaker and Lauren a body artist, quite recently wed, having their breakfast at their home. This scene is very interesting, confusing and strange. They converse, but neither are listening. They want to talk more, but they don't know what. Lauren is fascinated by the birds that come to visit them and she doesn't listen to what Rey says to her. She talks to him about a strange sound in the house, as if there is another person inside it. They had already checked the home but couldn't find anyone. After the breakfast, Rey goes to his ex-wife's apartment and commits suicide! Are we missing something?? After a few days, Lauren finds someone inside the house. A strange boy/man whose age she cannot determine. He doesn't speak anything except parts of the entire conversation she had with Rey. She calls him Mr.Tuttle. She takes care of him, feeds him and he in return tells him more of the conversation as if played from a recording device. This book reminded me so much about Wylding Hall, though I'm not sure why. Towards the end I wondered if Tuttle was Lauren's way of coping with the grief of her husband's loss, as she did not listen to his words during breakfast. I'm still confused about this book and will have to read it again sometime soon.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Shovelmonkey1

    I picked this book from the 1001 books list based on the title - "The Body Artist". I will also shamefacedly admit that it was part of my cherry picking short books off the 1001 list in a bid to cheat my way to a higher number of "read" books. Don't do this people, it can backfire. It is also a good reminder that we should read for pleasure and not to fulfil a list, or make up numbers or as a sort of enforced chore. Which was what this book became. It appealed to me, mainly because I spend a lot I picked this book from the 1001 books list based on the title - "The Body Artist". I will also shamefacedly admit that it was part of my cherry picking short books off the 1001 list in a bid to cheat my way to a higher number of "read" books. Don't do this people, it can backfire. It is also a good reminder that we should read for pleasure and not to fulfil a list, or make up numbers or as a sort of enforced chore. Which was what this book became. It appealed to me, mainly because I spend a lot of time digging up bodies and thinking about the human condition in a non philosophical sense. I'm not very philosophical. Despite what the grave digger in Hamlet would have you believe, spending your time up to your arse in charnel and musing upon the bony visages of the long departed will not turn you into a thoughtful poet. It will turn you into a slightly ghoulish cynic who sees us for what we are, mobile worm food which has not started rotting yet. Anyway, a friend had already warned me off Don DeLillo but foolishly I chose not to heed that warning and stumbled off into the cover of this book instead. Really, really wish I had not. Half a day of my life (it's a mercifully short book) which is not reclaimable and means I am now officially half a day closer to my annelid snack-fest destiny while having lost out to a load of self indulgent piffle. The premise is OK but the sentence structure and stylistic traits of the book are not for me. "Lauren ate her breakfast, or not, it didn't matte". Come on Don! They're your characters so please decide whether or not they performed an action. Otherwise that's just lazy. For those of you who also read this and decided that Don DeLillo had had his one and only chance on your bookshelves, don't lose heart! I recently read White Noise and it endeared me to Don, really it did. I'm just about to start reading Cosmopolis and have Underworld lined up like a threatening bulky bully on my shelf too. I'll get back to you once it's finished pummelling my face with its daunting word mass.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Franco Santos

    “What did it mean, the first time, a thinking creature looked deeply into another's eyes? Did it take a hundred thousand years before this happened or it was the first thing they did, transcendingly, the thing that made them higher, made them modern, the gaze that demonstrates we are lonely in our souls?” The Body Artist es una poderosa novelette sobre el dolor, el delirio y la corriente temporal que se lo lleva todo. Esperaba muy poco de esta obra secundaria de DeLillo, pero me terminó sorprend “What did it mean, the first time, a thinking creature looked deeply into another's eyes? Did it take a hundred thousand years before this happened or it was the first thing they did, transcendingly, the thing that made them higher, made them modern, the gaze that demonstrates we are lonely in our souls?” The Body Artist es una poderosa novelette sobre el dolor, el delirio y la corriente temporal que se lo lleva todo. Esperaba muy poco de esta obra secundaria de DeLillo, pero me terminó sorprendiendo. La prosa, por supuesto, es fascinante y la historia se desenvuelve de manera minimalista, lo que hace que cada hecho constitutivo resulte asfixiante y efectivo en la exposición del sufrimiento inmediato. Es, probablemente, su libro más deprimente. Lo recomiendo mucho, especialmente para leer en una noche.

  13. 5 out of 5

    mwpm mwpm

    "The body artist" is Lauren Hartke. Third wife of a failed filmmaker. The Body Artist opens with a brief interaction between Lauren and her husband, followed, in quick succession, by the suicide of the husband/failed filmmaker and the arrival of a stranger who barely communicates. Like Kaspar Hauser, the stranger enters the narrative without explanation. Unlike Kaspar Hauser, he doesn't carry a note. Nothing in the form of an explanation. Lauren is startled by his arrival, and considers alerting "The body artist" is Lauren Hartke. Third wife of a failed filmmaker. The Body Artist opens with a brief interaction between Lauren and her husband, followed, in quick succession, by the suicide of the husband/failed filmmaker and the arrival of a stranger who barely communicates. Like Kaspar Hauser, the stranger enters the narrative without explanation. Unlike Kaspar Hauser, he doesn't carry a note. Nothing in the form of an explanation. Lauren is startled by his arrival, and considers alerting the landlord. But something prevents her... Loneliness? Curiosity? Her reasons for the initial acceptance is unclear. But her reason for continued acceptance is derived entirely from the stranger's uncanny ability to mimic her husband's voice. He repeats things her husband has said, and in a voice that captures all of her husband's mannerisms. And yet the stranger is unable to communicate in the most basic way. There's a code in the simplest conversation that tells the speaker what's going on outside the bare acoustics. This was missing when they talked. There was a missing beat. It was hard for her to find the tempo. All they had were unadjusted words.... - pg. 67 Lauren devises numerous theories to explain the stranger's abilities and disabilities. Variously, he is compared to a tape recorder, a synthesized voice from an answering machine... She called Mariella and got the answering machine. A synthesized voice said, Please / leave / a mess/age af/ter / the / tone. The words were not spoken but generated and they were separated by brief but deep dimensions. She hung up and called back, just to hear the voice again.... - pg. 69 But nothing brings her closer to understanding his existence. She is undeterred. She may have been trying to reach her husband through a stranger who is seemingly a simulacrum of her husband, but the stranger becomes more interesting unto himself. This is best demonstrated when Lauren calls a friend to hear the answering machine, and hangs up when the friend answers. When she called again and Mariella answered, she put down the phone, softly, and stood completely still. - pg. 73 At the same time, the stranger becomes less interesting to the reader. It is Lauren's investigation that captivates us. Admittedly, DeLillo's women leave something to be desired. Lauren spends much of the novel haunted by her husband (directly or vicariously through the stranger)... Sometimes he didn't appear and sometimes he appeared but didn't eat and once he was missing for six or seven hours and she went through the house and then down the driveway in the dark, shining a flashlight in the trees and calmly saying "Where are you?" - pg. 79 She spends a portion of the novel obsessing over her appearance (which may be attributed to her profession, but is encumbered by the author's decision to sexualize activities that should be personal to the female character and therefore devoid of the male gaze) She began to work naked in a cold room. She did her crossovers on the bare floor, and her pelvic stretches, which were mockingly erotic and erotic both.... - pg. 60 (view spoiler)[In the end, it is suggested that the so-called "haunting" may not have been a literal haunting, but part the artist's creative process. Consider the episode with the answering machine... Lauren is silent when her friend answers. Is it because she wanted to hear the answering machine instead of her friend, or is she rehearsing the part of the silent stranger? "How simple it would be if I could say this is a piece that comes directly out of what happened to Rey. But I can't. Be nice if I could say this is the drama of men and women versus death. I want to say that but I can't. It's too small and secluded and complicated and I can't and I can't and I can't." - pg. 110-111 (hide spoiler)]

  14. 4 out of 5

    Girish Gowda

    DeLillo is a wordsmith. I'm one of those people who has no problem whatsoever with plotless books. Give me a bunch of interesting characters, and blow me away with beautiful, lyrical writing. I'm all game for such stuff. The book has some exceptional writing. The repetitions (which I've come to believe is a must for writers,like DeLillo, who love to write satire), shape the tonality of the novel. The opening breakfast scene is brilliant and the book held my attention for most of the part. But the DeLillo is a wordsmith. I'm one of those people who has no problem whatsoever with plotless books. Give me a bunch of interesting characters, and blow me away with beautiful, lyrical writing. I'm all game for such stuff. The book has some exceptional writing. The repetitions (which I've come to believe is a must for writers,like DeLillo, who love to write satire), shape the tonality of the novel. The opening breakfast scene is brilliant and the book held my attention for most of the part. But the final few pages though. I still admit I can't say in all honesty I understand the novel. Right after finishing it, I went through few summary notes online, and yes, they do comply with my interpretation of the novel. But I'm sure there is more depth to it than what my teeny tiny brain can stomach/fathom. I'm happy to know this isn't this man's best work. Because I already own Underworld, White Noise and Americana. I'll be bummed if someone told me this is his masterpiece. Great writing, but can't really say I loved it.

  15. 4 out of 5

    aayushi girdhar

    when the early Japanese constructed their language, they blended all the shades of blue and green to concoct a single, homogenized term - ''ao'' (青). Even today, the Japanese refer to specific vegetation, apples and vegetables as ''ao'' (such as blue apples, blue leaf, blue grass). as someone who always took pride in her understanding of the words, I felt betrayed at this contrived attempt to synthesize the human experience of all the shades vastly different colours into a single, bare word - 'a when the early Japanese constructed their language, they blended all the shades of blue and green to concoct a single, homogenized term - ''ao'' (青). Even today, the Japanese refer to specific vegetation, apples and vegetables as ''ao'' (such as blue apples, blue leaf, blue grass). as someone who always took pride in her understanding of the words, I felt betrayed at this contrived attempt to synthesize the human experience of all the shades vastly different colours into a single, bare word - 'ao'. no, it isn't an anomaly - their are far more subtle yet fierce ways that our language has failed us. while the reader in me dismays in our incompetence, the human in me corroborates the hidden fact that not everything can be encapsulated in writing. there are emotions that can't ever be justified on paper. I don’t have the words to explain the moment I first held my dog, a mass of tangled fur and bones and fleas, his brown eyes impossibly wide and tiny mouth opened in a screech of anguish. or how it felt to walk out into the screeching sunlight after my last exam, letting go of years toil that i held tight in my sweaty hands, instead filling it with fear of taking control of my life. or the smell of home after being away for days. so we just try, we find vague proxies, approximations of the true emotion, useless stand-in words shoved together, we use emoticons and gifs to encapsulate our emotions. this is what made this book powerful to me. don delillo exploring the various shades of grief. while the intensity of grief is reflected in the sentences, there's also a far more consuming interpretation of this emotion that hides in the space between words, sketching everything that a mere dictionary definition can't. there are ways that our language fails us. and maybe that's okay. this way we can keep throwing words into the chasm of this human experience, not always trying to convey ours, rather giving birth to a new shade every time we let someone else touch it.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Read By RodKelly

    Holy shit this was so haunting and gorgeous.

  17. 4 out of 5

    LunaBel

    Who Is He? *spoilers*   After the death of her husband, Lauren finds an uninvited guest in the rented house from which she has to leave in few weeks. Lauren came back to that house to sense the presence of a husband who committed suicide one day when he routinely left the house on “business.” Lauren debates whether to call the police, hospitals, whatever, or just watch the young man for some time. He is weird, and she wants to understand who/what he is. He does not talk much. He does not even know Who Is He? *spoilers*   After the death of her husband, Lauren finds an uninvited guest in the rented house from which she has to leave in few weeks. Lauren came back to that house to sense the presence of a husband who committed suicide one day when he routinely left the house on “business.” Lauren debates whether to call the police, hospitals, whatever, or just watch the young man for some time. He is weird, and she wants to understand who/what he is. He does not talk much. He does not even know how to talk correctly. She thinks he is an alien, and as the reader will discover, he is a sort of alien in the sense that he does not really belong to this world…   As you may guess, I once again liked this novel. I don’t know, there is something quite unnamed about DD’s writing that attracts me and makes me relate to his characters in a way or another. I feel dumbed down by this context: a world stifled by media, technology, and social networks.     ha! I’m writing in a blog, yes contradiction… but as Heidegger would say, this is the world I was ‘thrown’ in. I didn’t choose it, but I have to advance in it. As do DD’s characters. They try as much as possible to advance, and sometimes they find crazy ways to go on about that.    This is surely to be reread.    

  18. 4 out of 5

    Mon

    I hesitated as I was rating since I technically didn't finish the book. Most of the time the fact that I didn't complete a book is enough for me to give it 2 stars or less, but this is also significant because it's under 130 pages and I was actually in a patient enough mood for postmodernism. If you ask me what The Body Artist is about, I cam tell you about 4 things. 1) The main couple lives in a house 2) They eat human food, I think it was cereal, or maybe toast 3) They walk around the house a I hesitated as I was rating since I technically didn't finish the book. Most of the time the fact that I didn't complete a book is enough for me to give it 2 stars or less, but this is also significant because it's under 130 pages and I was actually in a patient enough mood for postmodernism. If you ask me what The Body Artist is about, I cam tell you about 4 things. 1) The main couple lives in a house 2) They eat human food, I think it was cereal, or maybe toast 3) They walk around the house a lot 4) Someone dies, then something happens This sums up my relationship with DeLillo. I never understand what's going on, yet somehow I don't feel confused or bored. Half way through and I still couldn't describe the protagonist other than her being 'some sort of living organism because she consumes toast and is written with a gender specific third person pronoun'. DeLillo manages to spawn paragraphs after paragraphs of laconic prose riddled with non-place specific locality without making me realise it as I read. It's like trying to taste water while you drink it, only without trying. So what kept me interested? Well, whatever compelled me to finish White Noise. Honestly, he can title his books White Noise 1 and White Noise 2 and I wouldn't be able to tell the difference. Ok maybe I'm being mean, Libra was pretty fun and has characters that do more than eat cereal.

  19. 5 out of 5

    K.D. Absolutely

    This novelette is like a breath of fresh air in the last row of books that I've read. It is definitely one of its kind and Don DeLillo is one heck of an author whose other works I will be reading within this year. I already have a copy of his Underworld, Mao II and Falling Man. In this novel, he definitely showed Nabokov's mastery of prose that almost feels like poetry and the skillful storytelling that is comparable to Ian McEwan's in his masterpiece Enduring Love. The remarkable difference, how This novelette is like a breath of fresh air in the last row of books that I've read. It is definitely one of its kind and Don DeLillo is one heck of an author whose other works I will be reading within this year. I already have a copy of his Underworld, Mao II and Falling Man. In this novel, he definitely showed Nabokov's mastery of prose that almost feels like poetry and the skillful storytelling that is comparable to Ian McEwan's in his masterpiece Enduring Love. The remarkable difference, however, between the obsessed lover in Enduring Love compared to the Mr. Tuttle is that McEwan provided a clinical description of the reason why his mysterious character behaves that way. DeLillo left us hanging speculating whether his mysterious character is rather a ghost, Rey himself, Lauren herself (she is a body artist so she can make herself like a ghost) or Lauren's imagination. The first chapter is truly worth reading. You can already get your money's worth by reading the whole 27 (out of 126) pages. It is unforgettable: simple (no big words) but told by including the minutest of details. Next time that you are having breakfast with your spouse, you will definitely pay more attention to your cereal and orange juice or if you have a kitchen window, you will appreciate the city birds (ibong maya) asking for some of your bread crumbs. As most parts should be read like poetry, I would like to believe that DeLillo wants this to be categorized as a tragic love story. I read the last 20 pages twice trying to find an answer on who really is Mr. Tuttle and I think that he is just figment of Lauren's imagination. Notice the story does not tell what happened to him in the end. Lauren loved Rey so much that she had to go back to the house and live by herself. Then she started imagining things which is not new to her considering that, as a body artist, she can also mimic other people's voices. However, it is senseless to argue about a excellent piece of literary work that should be read like a poem. We can always have our own interpretation. This is a tragic love story between Rey and Lauren. Or maybe a breakup novel as Rey was already contemplating leaving Lauren (his third wife) and that is the reason why Lauren said she did not have the keys to the car which later were revealed that she smashed those. Be it tragic or breakup, this is still a love story.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Matthew

    61st book of 2020. This is my first venture into DeLillo's work, somehow. Having said that, I don't feel as if I've missed much, with this anyway. This is what I refer to as a 'nothing' book. The whole thing washed over me causing no reaction to anything. The writing annoyed me too. It's not bad, but some lines just annoyed me at the pointlessness of them. Lots of lines like this: 'Lauren ate her breakfast, or not, it didn't matter.' or sentences like this just seemed to contradict themselves so 61st book of 2020. This is my first venture into DeLillo's work, somehow. Having said that, I don't feel as if I've missed much, with this anyway. This is what I refer to as a 'nothing' book. The whole thing washed over me causing no reaction to anything. The writing annoyed me too. It's not bad, but some lines just annoyed me at the pointlessness of them. Lots of lines like this: 'Lauren ate her breakfast, or not, it didn't matter.' or sentences like this just seemed to contradict themselves so painfully: When she got out the car, someone was there. She wasn't out of the car, she was still half in...' Well which is? It makes for frustrating reading sometimes, with so many wishy-washy sentences and contradictions. Some lines were poetic, but on the whole I found in underwhelming. Also, being sold as a 'ghost' story, is also completely wrong and off the mark. There's next to no plot, and nothing particularly profound is said either. DeLillo also beats the reader over the head with his themes, grief, loneliness, time... so much so that it's dull. I'm hoping White Noise is far better. Not hard to beat this though, granted.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Misha

    The opening is a lengthy and gorgeous description of a couple having breakfast. Then the story turns into a deeply weird meditation on grief, time and self. The prose is gorgeous.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Marcus Hobson

    This is another book off my Masters reading list which I am re-reading. For the second time, being asked to look in more detail is producing a greater appreciation of what has been written and the techniques employed. The first chapter contains an incredible amount of detail about what is essentially nothing happening over the breakfast table. A couple half-communicate, engrossed in their own little bubble and only half-listening to each other. If all books were written this way, everything would This is another book off my Masters reading list which I am re-reading. For the second time, being asked to look in more detail is producing a greater appreciation of what has been written and the techniques employed. The first chapter contains an incredible amount of detail about what is essentially nothing happening over the breakfast table. A couple half-communicate, engrossed in their own little bubble and only half-listening to each other. If all books were written this way, everything would be 1000 pages long. It is a curious chapter – in the second paragraph it says “It happened this final morning…” but you have no idea what is final about it until later. It is the details from the first chapter that stick in the mind. The colour of cereal packets, and the hair in her mouth “a short pale strand that wasn’t hers and wasn’t his.” She keeps returning to this hair, and ‘the intimate passage of the hair from person to person and somehow mouth to mouth across years and cities and diseases and unclean foods and many baneful body fluids.” Then a sudden change – a three page interruption that reads like a press report. It gives us all the background information we could want to know about Rey, the man at the breakfast table. In the last line we learn that he was survived by his wife Lauren, the body artist. We have no idea what that means. In the chapters that follow we have an excellent portrayal of grief. “The plan was to organize time until she could live again.” Even the rooms in the house play a part in presenting the grief. “She sat in the panelled room and tried to read. First she’d build a fire. It was a room designed aspiringly for a brandy and a fire, a failed room, perversely furnished, and she drank tea and tried to read a book. But she’d make her way through a page and stare indifferently at objects fixed in space.” There are some wonderful lines like, “She stopped listening to weather reports. She took the weather as it came, chill rain and blowy days and the great hunched boulders in the slant fields, like clan emblems, pulsing with stormlight and story and time.” That is a line to lose yourself in – the stormy weather, the rugged landscape, the loneliness reflected in the surroundings. Brilliant. Alone in the house, we read some of the passages I enjoyed the most about how Lauren passes her time. She spends hours in front of the computer, watching a live video feed of a road junction in Finland. “It was interesting to her because it was happening now, as she sat here, and because it happened twenty-four hours a day, facelessly, cars entering and leaving Kotka, or just the empty road in the dead times. The dead times were best.” Kotka, a town of 50,000 people in the south of Finland. A vast country with only five million inhabitants. There are always going to be quiet, dead times on the video feed. “She imagined someone might masturbate to this, the appearance of a car on the road to Kotka in the middle of the night. It made her want to laugh….It emptied her mind and made her feel the deep silence of other places, the mystery of seeing over the world to a place stripped of everything but a road the approaches and recedes, both relatives occurring at once, and the number changed in the digital display with an odd and hollow urgency, the seconds advancing towards the minute, the minutes climbing hourward, and she sat and watched, waiting for a car to take fleeting shape on the roadway.” What a great way to describe the passing of time in such a distinct and different way. Again we hit a sudden change. You might expect the next events to be drawn out, the noises, hints and suggestions, especially after that first chapter. But no, “She found him the next day in a small bedroom off the empty room at the far end of the hall on the third floor. He was smallish and fine-bodied and at first she thought he was a kid, sandy-haired and roused from deep sleep, or medicated maybe.” She calls him Mr. Tuttle, and his ability to mimic Rey’s voice helps her to deal with the loss. He is a stand-in, a partial replacement and had he not been then surely he would have been removed sooner. Instead there are sixty pages of learning to communicate with him, to winkle out the little snatches of voice memory that he holds. Another unnumbered chapter, like the death report. This talks about Lauren’s show in Boston, where she contorts her body and forms it into Tuttle, a small naked man. She is even able to talk in his voice. She is unable to say if this is a piece about Rey. After this the final chapter. Beautifully descriptive, dreamlike almost. And hard to figure. What is real and what isn’t. What is imagined and what is real. I think there are several ways to interpret what is there, so it is down to every reader to draw their own conclusions to the book. Or perhaps I am wrong.

  23. 4 out of 5

    J. Kent Messum

    I wasn't impressed with the last DeLillo book I read (Point Omega). And I sure as hell wasn't impressed with this one. 'The Body Artist' starts off with a breakfast. A breakfast between a woman and her husband in their home. A breakfast that runs on for TWENTY-SIX PAGES. Twenty-six pages of repetitive writing, navel-gazing, and viewing the mundane under a microscope to make up for the fact that nothing much actually happens... I mean, Christ, the book is only 128 pages in total, and we get to sp I wasn't impressed with the last DeLillo book I read (Point Omega). And I sure as hell wasn't impressed with this one. 'The Body Artist' starts off with a breakfast. A breakfast between a woman and her husband in their home. A breakfast that runs on for TWENTY-SIX PAGES. Twenty-six pages of repetitive writing, navel-gazing, and viewing the mundane under a microscope to make up for the fact that nothing much actually happens... I mean, Christ, the book is only 128 pages in total, and we get to spend almost a fifth of it on breakfast. If the pace of a story is important to you, you'll be bouncing your face off a brick wall right at the beginning. From there on the book gets a little better. The husband kills himself, the woman grieves in her own odd way, and a mysterious stranger suddenly appears in the house who is not quite human in the traditional sense. The encounters between the woman and the stranger bring into question the concepts of time, space, ability, and memory. The possibility of the stranger being something spectral, alien, time-traveling, or mentally handicapped are pondered. With these somewhat intriguing, eerie, and odd additives to the story, 'The Body Artist' is able to hold your attention just enough to make it to the end. And by the end you'll probably feel like you should like the book a lot more than you actually do... because of the author's pedigree. We all know what DeLillo is trying to do. He fancies himself a performer of "High Art" with the written word. And in the world of High Art, if you have the clout, you can piss on a piece of canvas and have others declare it brilliant while simultaneously suggesting that anyone pissed off (pun intended) by your performance is just not smart enough to "get it". Oh, I get it. Hell, DeLillo actually goes as far as putting this little lesson in High Art on the page for us all to see in a small segue where a writer interviews The Body Artist and reviews her performance art and blatantly states that people who found the "High Art" boring as fuck and intolerable were "missing out". Well, I have to be honest. Despite understanding all the depths the author was trying to mine out of this tale, part of me sure wishes I'd missed out. Apparently, pretentiousness is worth a whole lot more to DeLillo than any semblance of plot or pace. But another part of me got a little something something (if you've read the story, you'll know that's a pun) out of this book. The writing is surreal; intimate at times, coldly detached at others. I didn't dig too much of it, but sometimes DeLillo's writing hit's the mark, making it hard to forget. There are particular ideas and scenes that stuck with me too. It's also mercifully short. For that, I'll grant 'The Body Artist' two stars.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Bandit

    A good noncommittal way to try a new author is by reading their shorter works. Thing with that is it isn't always possible to know it it's an adequate representation of the author's talents. In this case Body Artist is a novella really, though the edition refers to it as a novel. But, based on this, would I commit to a larger work by an author like the much acclaimed White Noise or the behemoth Underworld...probably not. Body Artist does show a certain flair for language and has some lovely turn A good noncommittal way to try a new author is by reading their shorter works. Thing with that is it isn't always possible to know it it's an adequate representation of the author's talents. In this case Body Artist is a novella really, though the edition refers to it as a novel. But, based on this, would I commit to a larger work by an author like the much acclaimed White Noise or the behemoth Underworld...probably not. Body Artist does show a certain flair for language and has some lovely turns of phrase, but it is too strange and abstract to genuinely engage. It's a story of a woman artist dealing with becoming a widow and, much like the body artistry itself, it comes across as more of an avantgarde experiment than a straight forward narrative. It was a quick read, but much too odd to love.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Samir Rawas Sarayji

    Oei. A pretentious and self-involved... story? Slice-of-life? Experimental writing? A very short novel that could be read as a love story, but that would be tragic (pun intended) since I never cared for the protagonist in the first place. So what is the drive behind the book? Probably the hallucinations or the crazy person that is an occasional psychic, either way, it is a thin line holding this book together. The story came across as wanting to be magical realism but it fell way off the mark the Oei. A pretentious and self-involved... story? Slice-of-life? Experimental writing? A very short novel that could be read as a love story, but that would be tragic (pun intended) since I never cared for the protagonist in the first place. So what is the drive behind the book? Probably the hallucinations or the crazy person that is an occasional psychic, either way, it is a thin line holding this book together. The story came across as wanting to be magical realism but it fell way off the mark there. The unexplained phenomenon is too weak to suspend one's disbelief, making this an awkward book. Overall, a weak story with no emotional depth, only occasionally beautiful sentences.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Erica

    I hadn't read anything by Don DeLillo before so perhaps this was a bad book for a first experience. After I finished this book, I had this very powerful sensation: You know how when you go to see some obscure foreign film with your friends or you see an art exhibit that everyone else feels is so profound and deep while you are just sitting there wondering if your friends are insane because you don't see anything at all? That is the same feeling I had when I finished this book. I found this to be I hadn't read anything by Don DeLillo before so perhaps this was a bad book for a first experience. After I finished this book, I had this very powerful sensation: You know how when you go to see some obscure foreign film with your friends or you see an art exhibit that everyone else feels is so profound and deep while you are just sitting there wondering if your friends are insane because you don't see anything at all? That is the same feeling I had when I finished this book. I found this to be rather pointless, meandering, and more like a writing exercise than an actual work of fiction. There's no real plot, nothing really happens, and half the conversations in the book are disjointed and nonsensical. I tried to appreciate the nuances and just enjoy the writing style or the essence of the moments the writer was trying to convey, but I just felt disengaged.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Nate D

    The first chapter of The Body Artist is a near perfect bit of prose-poetry, two people microscopically dissected through a few minutes of mundane action. Everything proceeds in a sort of hyperreal slow motion, but it flows easily, naturally, even so. From there, the book switches gears into a study of self-isolation that rivals some of the loneliest passages of H. Murakami (who, in turn, has written some of the loneliest novels I know), but even at its brisk novella length, the book never grabbe The first chapter of The Body Artist is a near perfect bit of prose-poetry, two people microscopically dissected through a few minutes of mundane action. Everything proceeds in a sort of hyperreal slow motion, but it flows easily, naturally, even so. From there, the book switches gears into a study of self-isolation that rivals some of the loneliest passages of H. Murakami (who, in turn, has written some of the loneliest novels I know), but even at its brisk novella length, the book never grabbed me again as much as in its opening.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Suzanne

    Wasn’t a big fan of some other books by DeLillo, but this was a beautifully poetic exploration of grief, art, and a marriage.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly

    Rey and Laura, husband and wife. They rented a big, rambling, isolated house near the sea. Laura is Rey's 3rd wife. One day, Rey went to his first wife's house. Alone, he sat on a chair there and blew his brains out with a gun. Laura, by herself now, chooses to still live in the rented house by the sea and wait till the lease expires. One day, she discovered a retarded man in one of the rooms of that big house. He can't communicate but somehow apparently had observed Laura and Rey secretly before Rey and Laura, husband and wife. They rented a big, rambling, isolated house near the sea. Laura is Rey's 3rd wife. One day, Rey went to his first wife's house. Alone, he sat on a chair there and blew his brains out with a gun. Laura, by herself now, chooses to still live in the rented house by the sea and wait till the lease expires. One day, she discovered a retarded man in one of the rooms of that big house. He can't communicate but somehow apparently had observed Laura and Rey secretly before Rey killed himself, remembers what they said alone and to each other, and could speak as "Rey" [repeating what he had heard Rey said:] and sometimes he would speak as "Laura". Sometimes he would speak alternately, as if Laura and Rey are talking to each other, repeating a conversation they have had when Rey was still alive. It turned out later that the guy was a relative of the house owner who was sent to a mental institution before Rey and Laura rented the house. But he escaped the institution and managed to go back to the house by himself. Laura felt some bond with this retard who sometimes sound like Rey but he was later returned to the mental institution. Laura is a body artist. She uses the body to express her art. Her body and other people's bodies. After the lease expired, she leaves. But she was lonely so she returned to the house. Alone. And still lonely. The end. Simple story. So why is this in the "1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die'? Because of what Don DeLillo did with this simple story, the things he did in between the chain of events. Have you ever dropped a paperclip on the floor before? I bet you've done so countless times. If you were to write about such an incident, about this papaerclip dropping on the floor, how would you do it? In the first place, would you ever find it worthwhile to write about a paperclip dropping on the floor? Laura, alone in the house after Rey died, dropped a paperclip on the floor and this was how this virtuoso, Don DeLillo, put it into words: "You stand at the table shuffling papers and you drop something. Only you don't know it. It takes a second or two before you know it and even then you know it only as a formless distortion of the teeming space around your body. But once you know you've dropped something, you hear it hit the floor, belatedly. The sound makes its way through an immense web of distances. You hear the thing fall and know what it is at the same time, more or less, and it's a paperclip. You know this from the sound it makes when it hits the floor and from the retrieved memory of the drop itself, the thing falling from your hand or slipping off the edge of the page to which it was clipped. It slipped off the edge of the page. Now that you know you dropped it, you remember how it happened, or half remember, or sort of see it maybe, or something else. The paperclip hits the floor with an end-to-end bounce, faint and weightless, a sound for which there is no imitative word, the sound of a paperclip falling, but when you bend to pick it up, it isn't there." This, for just a mundane event. Of a paperclip dropping on the floor. What a mastery!

  30. 5 out of 5

    George

    A well written, clearly and vividly described, mesmerizing novella about a few months in the life of Lauren Hatke, a body artist. Lauren lives a lonely life in a rental house on the coast, coping with the recent death of her husband. In the house she meets a strange man who can not communicate properly. Here is an example of DeLillo's writing: "She began to pick up the phone. She used a soft voice at first, not quite her own, a twisted tentative other's voice at first, to say hello, who is this, y A well written, clearly and vividly described, mesmerizing novella about a few months in the life of Lauren Hatke, a body artist. Lauren lives a lonely life in a rental house on the coast, coping with the recent death of her husband. In the house she meets a strange man who can not communicate properly. Here is an example of DeLillo's writing: "She began to pick up the phone. She used a soft voice at first, not quite her own, a twisted tentative other's voice at first, to say hello, who is this, yes. Word had gotten around that she was here and the calls were from New York, where she lived, and from friends and colleagues in other cities. They called from the cities to tell her they didn't understand why she'd come back here. It was the last place she ought to be, alone in a large house on an empty coast, and she stepped through the rooms and climbed the stairs and planned the days in advance because there was more to do in less time as the light grew threatened. You looked and it was dark, always unexpected." (Page 36, Scribner edition)

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