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Monday, February 26, 2018

The Body Artist (2001) by Don DeLillo


Book Review
The Body Artist (2001)
 by Don DeLillo
Simon and Shuster Audio Book
Narrated by Laurie Anderson

   I went through a decent period of listening to audio books six, seven years ago, public domain books from the 18th and 19th century, using the Librivox app. It had some benefits- free books for one, but the quality of the reading ranged from ok to fucking terrible- often times it sounds like people were reading to help improve their English.  Now, I have finally figured out that you can get audio books and listen to them via the public library system.  BOOM.

  The Body Artist is a nicely put together audio book- certainly by the sad standards of public domain librivox- the narrator is none other than Laurie Anderson.  Clocking in at a little under three hours- The Body Artist is more like a novella than a novel, about the experiences of Lauren Hartke, a 30ish performance artist known as "The Body Artist" dealing with the aftermath of the very sudden suicide of her 60ish film maker husband, Rey Robles. The Body Artist is mostly stream of consciousness narration by Hartke, with brief, third-party interruptions written in print journalism style, about Hartke the artist.

  I actually listened to the entire audio book thinking it was by Paul Auster, now learning that it's actually by DeLillo the sparse, minimalist prose style and believable female character does more seem thin something DeLillo would do.  Like many of the books the editors of 1001 Books selected from 2000 and after, The Body Artist seems plucked at random because it an interesting book by an established author.  I would call it one of his minor works- certainly behind White Noise and Underworld- both of which are unreviewed here because I read them in school, and also I would rate it behind Libra (1988)- his Lee Harvey Oswald book, and Mao II (1991).  No doubt DeLillo was over-represented in the first edition of 1001 Books to Read Before You Die.

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