1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
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. She struggles with her grief in a rented house where a man appears. He may be an escaped patient from a mental ward. Yet he seems to quote words that she or her dead husband said. This captivates her. She allows him to stay, at...
Published on June 20 2008 by Reader and Writer
1.0 out of 5 stars Total Nonsense
I was interested in the story of "The Body Artist" because, as some of you know, a "body artist" is the name we in my profession (architecture) have given to those who actually design the outer part of a building, the nonfunctional but beautifully pleasing visible part. I was such a body artist before my eyesight disappeared. Yes, I'm a blind...
Published on July 28 2001 by J. Mason
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1.0 out of 5 stars Total Nonsense,
I was interested in the story of "The Body Artist" because, as some of you know, a "body artist" is the name we in my profession (architecture) have given to those who actually design the outer part of a building, the nonfunctional but beautifully pleasing visible part. I was such a body artist before my eyesight disappeared. Yes, I'm a blind architect. Good only for cold equations and what is somewhat obscurely referred to as "business" consultations. In any event, "The Body Artist" is NOT about architecture. It is a very numbing story about a woman named Goody Michaelson who runs a bed and breakfast establishment in the Outer Banks. One day a huge storm rushes up the coast and Mrs. Michaelson refuses to leave the hotel. She is carried off to a tropical island off the coast of Madagascar where she learns the homely folkways of the tribe of intelligent Lemurs she encounters there and devotes the rest of her life to her fruit collection, forgetting about the "personal service" standard that had marked her days in the hospitality industry. I don't know, I thought it dragged a little after we arrived in the Madagascar part but, heck, I'm not the one who has to read aloud, it's my long-suffering but essentially functional wife. Think I'll keep her. As to the book, I sawed it into four equally sized sections, drilled a 3/4" hole in the center of each, and bolted the four together. Beautiful little piece, hearkening back to my old "body artist" days if I do say so myself. How I wish I could go back to active design.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Living Still Life,
This review is from: The Body Artist (Paperback)
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. She struggles with her grief in a rented house where a man appears. He may be an escaped patient from a mental ward. Yet he seems to quote words that she or her dead husband said. This captivates her. She allows him to stay, at first as a link to her deceased love, and then as a gateway to her past. She tape records him and asks, would we recognize ourself if what we said in the past was presented to us. This is what she sees the man as doing.
The book begins in a very Pinteresque manner, a couple delineating the items of their lives, this is hers, this is his, as they fix breakfast. The blurb calls this opening a tour de force of eighteen pages. I disagree. It's not Pinter and it gets tedious in the way that parts of Travels in Scriptorium by Auster get tedious. We want a stronger story. This comes when book shifts to Lauren after her husband's death.
The elements of Lauren's life become her performance art. If you know art, like I do, you will see vague references to many artists who used their bodies as art. DeLillo makes a couple mistakes, he forgets or doesn't know Orlan, one of the major body artists around today, and he says that Bob Flanagan drives "nails" through a part of his anatomy better off not mentioned here -- but it was only one nail. But DeLillo is a writer and so we let that go in passing. Lauren's work takes the elements we've witnessed so far; she internalizes and presents to her audience, as we learn as she is interviewed over lunch. Her memories are dead pictures, but they are living moments.
What makes the book absolutely amazing is the quality of the writing. Once DeLillo gets into his stride we see him taking giant steps similar to what Beethoven did in the late string quartets. They are resonant, perceptive, absolutely beautiful in their small segments. It's called a novel but this is really more of a long short story or a novella, both in length, about 30K words and in its tone. DeLillo skips breadth but doesn't back off the verbal fireworks. There are small images, one line images that I just can't seem to shake off. This is train of thought combined with the deadly edge of a honed blade. How does one combine those two ideas, exactly the way DeLillo did it here. As I said, it's not a novel, don't read it for that and don't expect a soul searching catharsis. Read it like you are listening to chamber music and enjoy the moments.
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. I really would like to see the whole premise even taken farther. I was a bit dissapointed that we didn't focus on "Mr. Tuttle" more - I could've read about him even more.
5.0 out of 5 stars A HAUNTING NOVELLA ABOUT THE SHATTERING EFFECTS OF DEATH,
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.
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. It's not your typical novel, because it appears to be flat and uneventful -- in other words, no plot to speak of. But it will make you think about the nature of identity and what makes us who we are. The Body Artist is really more of a parable than a novel. The two main characters -- Lauren, a "body artist" who turns her own body into nothingness and a strange man who had until recently lived secretly in her home and who has the gift of mimicking other people's voices, but with no voice of his own -- are interesting in their bizarre similarities. But nothing really happens to them. Even so, DeLillo writes with marvelous, beautiful prose. Read this if you are in the mood for something experimental, literary and thought provoking.
4.0 out of 5 stars A good book for some,
By A Customer
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.
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. The only redeeming feature of this book is that it is a mere 124 pages in length.
The jacket description isn't even close to accurate unless by "spare and seductive" they meant spare on entertainment and that it seduces you to sleep.
I'm going to give some of DeLillo's other work a chance because of the rave reviews I've read. This however, is not the place to start investigating his work.
4.0 out of 5 stars Who knows anything about anyone?,
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. In any case I personally enjoyed the subtleties of the scene immensely.
This is a subtle and beautiful story with its own unique ambience that pulls you right in if you like the style. I'd even say that I, for one, prefer the more distilled form of this personal struggle to conspiracies and social satire of Mr. Delillo's previous works.
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, and -- perchance -- poetically. Mr. Delillo does not have this talent.
James Joyce was a poet and by his own admission a comic. Mr. Delillo is no Joyce and if he is trying to be, he has yet to succeed.
I can't imagine any seasoned reader who does not see through this trickery. This piece of work is a deceit and a bore.
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. It is all about a couple's breakfast routine. While I give DeLillo credit for being able to write more about such a thing than I could, it simply isn't interesting. Add to that the fact that it is completely disjointed and what you've got is a bad way to lead off a book. I skimmed through the rest of the book and found nothing that intrigued me enough to actually read. It is a short book, so it wouldn't take long to read, but save yourself the time and find something else.
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The Body Artist by De Lillo (Hardcover - Feb. 23 2001)
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