©2001 Don DeLillo, All Rights Reserved; (P)2001 Simon & Schuster Inc., All Rights Reserved; AUDIOWORKS Is an Imprint of Simon & Schuster Audio Division, Simon & Schuster Inc.
“DeLillo’s most affecting novel yet...A dazzling, phosphorescent work of art.” (Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times)
“The clearest vision yet of what it felt like to live through that day.” (Malcolm Jones, Newsweek)
“A metaphysical ghost story about a woman alone…intimate, spare, exquisite.” (Adam Begley, The New York Times Book Review)
I'd give this one six stars if I could. DeLillo isn't everyone's cup of tea. The earlier negative reviewer is fair: the painstaking exactitude with which he documents our (contemporary American people's) thoughts and speech could, I suppose,--if you're not attuned--seem to have a pointless obsessiveness. But man alive, if you let yourself go with it, you'll find that he's speaking thoughts you yourself have had, speech you yourself recall having heard someplace (you can't quite recall where); and it's all absolutely true, often funny, and continually disconcerting. What's even more odd about the sense of familiarity is that this book, really, is a bizarre ghost story in the tradition of James' Turn of the Screw or Conrad's Secret Sharer.
About the narration: Laurie Anderson is perfect for this book in every way, aurally and temperamentally. I could listen to her tell stories for days on end. Audio quality excellent, too.
With DeLillo's usual expertise, this story is an excellent slant on the grieving process. I felt that I wanted to listen to it again as soon as it had ended, afraid that I had missed so much of the important details. This is definitely one that bears repeating and I would highly recommend it. It is not one to be casually listened to in the background, however. It required concentration. I found myself rewinding whenever I got to engrossed in traffic while I drove...but well worth the effort!
I love her own work and saw her many years ago in a brilliant concert. Unfortunately, her voice strikes me as ineffectively "quiet" for these purposes. I listened while I rode in a car, and it seemed much of her inflection got drowned out by road noise. She's a great performer and a major artist in her own right, but I don't think her voice is quite pitched for the work of narration.
I'm a big DeLillo fan, but this turned out to be very difficult to follow as an audiobook. It's a story where the ground is constantly shifting, where we can't be certain of many of the things we early on take for granted. I think it would be confusing to read even as a printed book, but that confusion is amplified through the listening experience.
The central figure experiences a deep loss and, at least I read it, she projects that loss onto a character who suddenly seems to occupy her house. I read that character as an image of her grief and, as such, that central metaphor is beautiful and powerful. The book doesn't settle there, though, and, much as it pains me to say of DeLillo, this one doesn't quite find its core argument. (I recently read Point Omega as well, and I found that a much better work.)
DeLillo's take on the grieving process is fascinating, unique and, admittedly, sometimes confusing. As one reviewer noted, you can't listen to The Body Artist in traffic and fully appreciate its complexity. Laurie Anderson's narration is superbly nuanced. Hers is just the right voice, just the right articulation.
Why did I buy this book? The write up looked interesting but the book is proving to be a big disappointment. I am not enjoying it at all. So far it has been description after endless description of the most mundane aspects of life - with a little story thrown in if you can find it. This is the first audio book I will not finish. I recommend listening to a sample before buying - you may find this as boring as I have.
The voice of the performer is really melodic and nice but she does not inflected AT ALL during dialogue scenes. I'm not exaggerating. A two-page exchange of dialogue sounds like an incoherent monologue. Also, I'd read the novel before hearing the audio and I think she often uses the wrong tone for the characters. Again, though, while reading the prose her voice is very nice.
There's not a whole lot of story to this book. It is more or less the story of how a woman comes to terms with the death of her husband after he kills himself. On her return to the house they have been renting after the funeral, she discovers a man in the house who appears to have overheard various conversations she had with her husband and is able to almost play them back for her. But it is never clear who this person is, or, ultimately, whether he even exists or not.
The style is similar to parts of Delillo's major work, 'Underworld', and the effect is almost more of a meditation or tone poem than a story.
I normally don't take to lyrical prose, if that is in fact what I listened to. The book comes in at three and a half hours, which was ideal for getting out of my comfort zone. In an era where information comes lightning fast and you just want to hurry up and get to the next thing, I like that the book makes you slow down and take the time to really listen to what it has to say. When I realized that the opening scene in the kitchen was not going to transition anytime soon, I let myself appreciate the choice of words and how DeLillo was saying it.
Laurie Anderson's narration is warm and deliberately paced. It was well suited for the way the story is told.
In short, it's about a woman who loses her husband to suicide and a "being" who has been in the house where she lives appearing to her shortly after. What makes me want to listen to this again is that, now that I have a full understanding of what a Body Artist is and does, it leaves me to wonder if the apparition was real or not. The book makes no effort to answer either way, which I loved.
What I thought was going to be tedious wound up being a pleasant surprise and I'm glad I stuck with it. I'll be looking for more of the author and the narrator in future.
This is my first encounter with DeLillo, so I don't know if this book is representative of his style, but I found the repetitious writing very boring. I couldn't wait for it to be finished.
this is the worst book i've ever "read" by delillo - i'm a big fan of white noise, cosmopolis, underworld etc but i actually began to find this book so embarrassing to listen to that i eventually turned it off. i found delillo's imaginative attempt to describe female embodiment from the inside very, very weird indeed, and i would say that if you're not into breathy confessional discussions of embodiment, in a performative, "body art" context, then spare yourself this one. on the other hand, if you are into all that stuff - i know that some people are, and i'm not standing in judgement - then, great, this book is for you.
"Interesting but not really for me"
I did struggle to finish listening to this book. It's written in a very specific style and I just found it hard to keep my concentration on what was being said - my thoughts kept wandering away from what I was hearing! It was worth a listen though!
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