The Body Artist – Don DeLillo

This is my first DeLillo encounter and I was unsure what to expect. After the first sequence of a married couple eating breakfast, I was skeptical, but as I finished the novella, my thoughts were:

Yes! This is grief, the passivity that is without being, just sustaining – until it takes on another form and leads inexplicably to living.

In other reviews of “The Body Artist” there is a summary and strangely enough sometimes only a summary, but I find the storyline secondary to the state(s) of mind that ebb and flow in the main character. Others argue whether a certain character is retarded or a ghost; I find this irrelevant.

I find that the atmosphere of grief, passivity, and time are the main objectives together with the language of free association and second-guessing. If “The Body Artist” was a 400-page novel, it would be too long and too chaotic, but in the novella form, free association and finding existential truths in banalities corresponds with reality.

That said I do love the way everything is tied together in the performance of the body artist.

I would recommend “The Body Artist” to the brooding reader or anyone on a first name basis with Melancholy.

I leave you with two quotations from “The Body Artist” that I find pivotal:

The plan was to organize time until she could live again” (p. 37)

“Time unfolds into the seams of being. It passes through you, making and shaping.” (p. 99)

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