The Body Artist
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Date: February 2001
Duration: 3 hours 0 minutes
THE BODY ARTIST opens with a breakfast scene, a husband and wife, Lauren Hardke, the Body Artist of the title, and Rey Robles, a much older, thrice-married film director, in a rambling rented house somewhere on the New England coast. Though this novel is a radical shift from UNDERWORLD, the way these two people absorb their toast and figs and newspaper, their intimate, half-complete, disjunctive dialogue, is pure DeLillo. He is a stunningly unsentimental observer of marriage, and of the idiosyncrasies that both isolate and bind us. In this novel, he enters the essential space of human encounter.
Rey says he's taking a drive and he does, all the way to the Manhattan apartment of his first wife, where he shoots himself. Lauren is left alone, or not alone, as she welcomes a stranger into the house, an eerie, strangely gifted individual she calls Mr. Tuttle. This man, who often speaks in Rey's voice or Lauren's, who knows both intimate moments of their past life and things that haven't yet happened, seems to defy time and to deepen the mystery of human perception.
Told from Lauren's perspective, this is a lonely novel, mutely beautiful and moving. It is also a dialogue with our century's new understanding of time.