17 June 2012

Don DeLillo, The Body Artist, 2001

Lauren Hartke is a performance artist whose husband, a film director, dies unexpectedly in the company of his first wife. Then at the New England summer house they were renting, a mentally disturbed man appears who has little ability with language but who is somehow channeling her late husband. What is she to make of this? DeLillo extracts extraordinary depth from this simple situation, his post-modern style seeming well-suited to a novel replete with half-finished thoughts and sentences, casual grammatical slips and odd rhythms of speech, culminating in a language that blurs the edges between Hartke and the unknown man. It’s haunting and clever, and DeLillo makes creative use of the in-built flexibility of English that, while being entirely self-conscious, seems to be the right technique to portray a woman who is detached and remote from herself. Recommended as a rather challenging read.  PY


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