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The Body Artist [Audio Cassette]

3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (106 customer reviews)

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
Format:Paperback
This is not an easy novel, and don't let its length (a mere 124 pages) let you think otherwise.
The plot is anything but usual. After a young artist's husband commits suicide, she resumes her life only to one day discover a strange person sitting on a bed in an unused room, an otherworldly man-child who speaks in cryptic utterances that lack context and syntax. She assumes that he suffers from autism and plans to notify authorities; but changes her mind after hearing him repeat, word for word, a conversation she had with her husband on the day of his death. Wow.
Who is this quaint stranger -- unwilling time traveler? Is our protagonist no more than a desperate woman whose grief and isolation have made her delusional? At first I was somewhat frustrated by these questions, but found myself haunted by the layered meanings.
When it was not the prose that had me thinking, I was smitten with DeLillo's fascinatingly poetic writing style. He weaves such a riveting tapestry of words to delve into the emotional minutiae of his characters that he not only captivates our sympathetic attention he has us thinking like we were the ones he was talking about.
I highly recommend this effortlessly engrossing tale if you have a taste for offbeat but thought-provoking literature.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A good book for some March 1 2004
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
This is a not a dramatic book. This is a book that you read on a rainy afternoon in one sitting and bathe in the mood. The sentences are short at times, choppy and fragmented--a complaint made by the current "spot light reviewer". This is done for reason, for mood, and for effect. To some it may feel like a published experimental garbage-dump only gotten into print because of DeLillo's fantastic reputation. However, to read this book well you have to look at it as a whole.
The title, "The Body Artist", has as much bearing on this short work as the characters inside it. There is a backround of artistry, one of ambiguous interpretation not unlike those "new age" plays shown in the city. The book is light and dense at the same time; some of the sentences will strike you as odd and uneeded with no depth, while other scenes will captivate you with an overwhelming feeling of depression--hopefully lasting throughout the length of the novel. While I was reading, the book almost called for a scholarly analysis of theme and characterization: like I said, if read right the feeling of despair and eccentricity will seep into you. Read it with an artistic viewpoint and you'll be nicely rewarded.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Who knows anything about anyone? Dec 5 2003
Format:Paperback
Don Delillo writes about another America, where there are no great heroics, soaring of spirit, nor great moral battles. He tells of the defeated, confused, and estranged who live the one life they have as only they know how.
In The Body Artist the struggle is distilled within a single woman, who copes with the suicide of her husband as her mind leads her body, in solitude. There is a startling lack of overt sentimentality which would have spoiled the story. Rather the emptiness she must feel is conveyed through her gestures and stalk sceneries surrounding her solitary life in a large rented house. Underneath the apparent disaffectedness of the heroine, however, readers perceive her doubts, rage, and longing, which materialize halfway as a timeless man/child of no origin. We read the heroine's lonely and circular struggle to cope with what life has dealt her, through her relationship with the non-character, and in the end some kind of an expression of understanding(?) or an attempt to close an event, which none of us should have the presumption to judge. Mr. Delillo would object, but I finished the story with a moral: that we each of us perceive the external world through the fogginess of our inner uncertainties, and that to understand others is perhaps an ability to wipe the slate of your own understanding clean.
The charge of boredom by some reviewers is regretful. No, there's neither resolution nor triumph over the tragedy, but it's very rare that our lives offer any kind of resolution. As for the breakfast scene at the beginning, I think it tells us the intimacy and familiarity the man and the woman share at dawn, which makes the loss of the husband all the more personal to us. I also read into the dialogues an underlining tension which could be a foreboding of an end.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Show me the body Sept. 19 2003
Format:Hardcover
Don Delillo follows up his largest and finest work - 'Underworld' - with perhaps his smallest and poorest work: 'The Body Artist'. While the dust-jacket calls this piece of fiction a novel, it is clearly a novella. At only 124 pages, and with only one focal character, there isn't enough intermingled complexity to make it a novel, and not enough 1-2-3 punch to make it a long short story. Delillo's tone is consistent with his other works: the characters all sound the same and seem to pine for some sort of normalcy. The quest at understanding the postmodern is dwindling away, along with the cold-war and garbage, as some of Delillo's obsessions. What we have here is a sort of super-existentialism.
Lauren Hartke is a body artist - she puts her body into strange shapes and under constant pressure - and she is haunted. Her obsession with her own body serves as a clue to her complete lack of comprehension of all those outside of her body. Her husband, her friends, her acquaintances - they are all strangers. 'The Body Artist' is about these ghosts: mostly regular people, but still intangible to Lauren. Delillo is still a master on his worst day, and moments of this book do shine. Only Delillo could conjure up so pure a ghost story without using a shred of the supernatural. Hartke's obsessions creep up just slowly enough to almost be unnoticeable to us. By the end, we readers are able to snap out of the scenario and realize its craziness. But for Lauren - trapped in her own world and body - this realization is not as plausible.
Dellilo's faults her are not with subject. His intent is as noble as ever. The words themselves just don't work as well. Perhaps after 'Underworld's' massiveness, he felt an urgency to 'crank something out' - and here it is: a little under-developed novella. Despite its flaws, it is still a necessary chapter in Don Dellilo's oeuvre.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars A Living Still Life
The main character wants this and in a sense she strives for it. Let me explain. Lauren's husband, a relatively known film director dies. Read more
Published on June 20 2008 by Reader and Writer
1.0 out of 5 stars Delillo double-bogey
This is not meant to be helpful; rather it's meant to express my distaste for this Delillo offering. The Body Artist is one of the most artsy, pretentious novels I've ever read.
Published on July 16 2004 by C. Myers
1.0 out of 5 stars Hated it.
Hey, I liked "White Noise" too. But give me a break. Completely implausible with precious little insight to Delillo's masterful skill with dialogue and his uncanny... Read more
Published on June 22 2004
4.0 out of 5 stars Quick read
I really loved the premise. I was fascinated about it. I think it would make a wonderful movie or play. It was a quick read and held my attention. Read more
Published on May 17 2004 by Bethanie Frank
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, thought-provoking parable...
The Body Artist is an interesting, engaging rumination. I do, however, have one piece of advice: be sure you are in the mood to read this book. Read more
Published on March 25 2004 by CoffeeGurl
1.0 out of 5 stars unbelievable......just how bad this is
I can honestly say this is one of the worst books I've ever read. It is poorly written, excruciatingly boring and proof-positive that a big name can get anything published. Read more
Published on Feb. 19 2004 by Moses Alexander
1.0 out of 5 stars The Magician
I can't believe how many readers have been seduced by this goobledygook sophomoric word play. The success of any writer is his or her ability to tell a tale, seductively, clearly,... Read more
Published on Nov. 15 2003 by "tiseye"
1.0 out of 5 stars Bad way to begin a book (by Gary Schwind)
I never got through a book as quickly as I got through this one. That's because I didn't actually read the whole thing. I read only the first chapter, which is an utter bore. Read more
Published on Nov. 4 2003 by Gone with the Schwind
4.0 out of 5 stars Ahhh!
Now, I'm no fan of this book's predecessor, 'Underworld', but 'The Body Artist' is a sublime, superbly crafted and touching story. Read more
Published on June 18 2003 by "writing_static"
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