The Body Artist
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The Body Artist

3.19 of 5 stars 3.19  ·  rating details  ·  5,606 ratings  ·  434 reviews
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 Robl...more
Paperback, 128 pages
Published February 5th 2002 by Scribner (first published 2001)
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Community Reviews

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Bennet
Couldn't sleep last night and re-read this, which had the effect of a rhythmic massage, primarily to a stiff neck and knotted shoulders that notably relaxed as I read. Something about the plainly poetic prose, with its quietly rhythmic language and the familiar, even mundane, details, rendered somehow incandescent in the telling, as if by a gentle voice reading barely aloud by dim lantern light.

This is a dream of a book, little more than a hundred pages, likely to disappoint if you're unwilling...more
Paul
Sep 05, 2013 Paul marked it as assorted-rants-about-stuff
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 mea...more
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...more
Oscar
Es admirable la capacidad que tiene DeLillo para hacer vibrar el interior del lector. Con su prosa precisa, como si de un bisturí se tratase, nos muestra de manera clara algunas de las cosas de la vida diaria, de las que sabemos su existencia pero no sabemos explicar con palabras, y que él nos describe de forma deslumbrante. Sólo conozco a otro escritor capaz de hacer los mismo, y es David Foster Wallace.

No es que haya leído muchos libros de DeLillo, de hecho estoy empezando a conocerlo, y no ac...more
Shovelmonkey1
Nov 13, 2011 Shovelmonkey1 rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Shovelmonkey1 by: 1001 books list
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...more
Mon
Sep 12, 2011 Mon rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: po-mo
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...more
J Frederick
A small book about grief, following a wife alone in her husband's house after his suicide. Yet she finds out she may not be alone after all as evidence builds up of another resident hiding away. I make it seem suspenseful, and it is certainly mysterious, but I always had a sense that peace and calm were being slowly strived for and attained, mirroring the grieving process. The thing I will always remember most about the novel is the opening scene of the husband and wife sharing breakfast, their...more
Aidan Watson-Morris
this novel grabbed me, as delillo is wont to do, & i read it in its entirety at a local independent bookshop where local bands go to play while a concert was going on around me. also picked up a copy of mason & dixon for eight bucks, so, all around, a good night.
K.D. Absolutely
Jan 27, 2010 K.D. Absolutely rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Fans of tragic love stories
Recommended to K.D. by: 1001 Must Read Books; Tata J
Shelves: ex-1001
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...more
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.
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...more
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...more
Nick Wellings

The Body Artist

Ghost meets Truly Madly Deeply in book form.

This was a damp squib for me, a misfire. Basically a treatise of the uncanny, born from a fictionalised encounter with an-other.

Spoilers: (plotlines...)

One day you're at home with your husband looking out the window at the birds, making toast and chatting. Everything's cool.

Next thing you know, breakfast been and done, he's driven from your holidayplace in New England to Manhattan where he used to live, and shot himself.

Cue DeLilloean s...more
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...more
Jack Waters
You can't go wrong with DeLillo. When you feel a book of his doesn't quite do it for you on a White Noise/Underworld scale, you realize you are reading DeLillo and your expectation level is sky-high.

The Body Artist is a nice novella about loss, memory, thought construction, longing and confusion. I read it in a short sitting, as could you. One of my friends, also a bookseller, names this as his favorite DeLillo offering. And he is a fellow DeLillo-ite. So, to quote another friend, Chris, put th...more
Jim
An intense read. Stays with you long after you finish. Definitely a good read.
Alan Chen
If I could I would give it 3.5 stars, I would. This is one of DeLillo's shorter works and at 128 pages it's more a novella than a novel. It's an odd little work and mostly takes place in a little house in the middle of nowhere. Laura is at the house he rented with her husband Rey after he commits suicide. Laura walks around the house, soaked in her alone-ness and recalls moments with her husband. She may/may not find a ghost in the house and the entity doesn't seem to understand English but like...more
Emir Never
The Body Artist opens with reconnaissance in the kitchen of the main characters: her newspaper, his toast, his weather, his groan... His, her – in a house not theirs. The birds outside. Outside. Then a stray hair in her mouth, not hers or his, a stranger’s—the first sign of intrusion, a break from probable monotony and routine.

The next day he’s dead, suicide: Rey Robles, 64, a has-been director, survived by his third wife, the one he had left in the rented house, Lauren Hartke, the body artist.

T...more
Alex Telander
The Body Artist cannot really be called a novel (and barely a novella) with a total of 126 pages and a font size of fifteen or more, but for its shortness I’m glad. “She rubbed in the cream to remove wastepapery skin in flakes and scales and little rolling boluses that she like to hold between her fingers and imagine, unmorbidly, at the cell death of something inside her.”

The book is full of these exhortations on life and humanity that serve more to annoy and aggravate than to enlighten and impr...more
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...more
Renee
The Body Artist is an interesting rumination, but my one piece of advice is--just be sure you are in the mood for this one. It's not your typical novel, because nothing really happens, there is no plot to speak of. It will, however, make you think. 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, a blank sheet and an odd man who she d...more
Brenda
Ojalá el libro se pareciese más a su preciosa portada.
Sharon Skinner
I couldn't get past the first few pages, which consisted largely of a chain-of-consciousness-type description of the woman eating cereal and her husband reading the paper. Apparently, not my cup of tea, made stronger by leaving the bag in the water, then lifting it and dunking it, lifting it and dunking it and finally lifting it out of the water and placing it on a plate where the remaining water pools darkly around the edges leaving a stain . . .
Hadrian
Wonderful artistry with the prose style, and I've always admired DeLillo for that. I'm even willing to ignore the overwrought themes for it, this time.
§--
Awful. Pretentious free-indirect/Joyce's Ulysses-stream garbage. A 30,000 word prose poem that sucks. I have noticed a pretentiousness in DeLillo's interviews--the big meaningless generalizations about American culture (which are really just semantic misunderstandings at bottom) [as if the job of a novelist is to parse a culture], the sacredness of writing and the writer, a kind of nonconformism which is just dressed up conformism, and so on. More pretentious than DeLillo, however, is the book j...more
Ashley
Okay, so I tried really hard to look past the fact that I found this book to be a waste of words in almost every relevant literary category I can think of, except for maybe the mechanics.

As for the rest of it, if I was capable of mushroom stamping DeLillo I would have just to make the experience mildly interesting. The thing that strikes me is that, post chapter 1, the entire book is about Lauren's post-Rey experience, yet the setup of the first chapter leads me to believe that they had the most...more
Danny
The Body Artist by Don Delillo. I find every sentence in the novel to be a phrase of poetry. But not poetry like Oscar Wilde's Dorian Gray- not aesthetic poetry- just blunt poetry describing every fine detail of the surrounding environment. The first few pages are confusing. You sit there just wondering why did it start like this? what is going on? There is this stillness to the story that made me feel uncomfortable so I stopped reading it and came back to it a few weeks after.

I don't want to sa...more
Wendy Chard
"It is about who we are when we are not rehearsing who we are" (pg 112).

What I loved about this book- what engulfed me helplessly during my reading and my enjoying of it- was the way that DeLillo so effortlessly reflects the complex simplicities of every day life. The shaking of a juice carton and the birds that flit so quickly from the feeder that we'd need to relive the moment just to be sure that they had ever been there.

Here we have the nameless man (Mr. Tuttle, if you like) replicating the...more
Lea
This novel taught me a lot about the colour grey. We met by accident on a rainy day in Copenhagen, and reading it was like staring at an abstract painting for some hours. It completely absorbed me, although I am pretty sure, I only understood parts of it, only the top of the iceberg. When I reread this, which I surely will, different things will inspire different thoughts than the first time I read this.

The story follows the body artist Lauren, shortly after (and just before) the death of her hu...more
Luke
I believe this is my thris time through reading this wonderful novella from one of America's finest literary talents.
Though I have yet to even tackle half of his ouvre, DeLillo is abundantly gifted in adapting his craft to whatever voice he may be trying to convey. And The Body Artist plays out like a largely poetic undertaking that creates a ton of near cryptic atmospheres with wonderful word play. Not to mention wonderfully empathetic pearls of the humna condition like such:
"In sleep he was n...more
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Don DeLillo is an American author best known for his novels, which paint detailed portraits of American life in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. He currently lives outside of New York City.

Among the most influential American writers of the past decades, DeLillo has received, among author awards, a National Book Award (White Noise, 1985), a PEN/Faulkner Award (Mao II, 1991), and an American...more
More about Don DeLillo...
White Noise Underworld Libra Cosmopolis Falling Man

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“When birds look into houses, what impossible worlds they see.” 21 likes
“Why shouldn't the death of a person you love bring you into lurid ruin? You don't know how to love the one you love until they disappear abruptly. Then you understand how thinly distanced from their suffering, how sparing of self you often were, only rarely unguarded of heart, working your networks of give-and-take.” 19 likes
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