LITERATURE: The Body Artist – Character

As I had mentioned, the little man has little character, and the harder I want to believe in an ethereal, not-of-this world meaning to him, the harder it becomes to believe.  Same thing with Lauren, who I totally related to at the beginning in her sudden sense of loss and bewilderment yet intense need to comprehend. 

That night she stood outside his room and listened to him whimper.  The sound was a series of weak cries, half cries, dull and uniform, and it had a faint echo, a feedback, and carried a desolation that swept aside words, hers or anyone’s.

(…) He lay curled in a thin blanket.  She uncovered him and lay on top.  You are supposed to offer solace.  She kissed his face and neck and rubbed him warm.  She put her hand in his shorts and began to breathe with him, to lead him in little breathy moans.  This is what you do when they are scared.  (p. 90)

No, you don’t.  If it’s someone you love you might feel and understand the need for affirmation via sexual touch, but I’da been a whole lot happier if she held him close and stroked his head.  Nor did I feel the "You are supposed to offer solace" as a real and genuine emotion.  I suppose it was up to me to have decided by now what the little man is–a reality, that is, maybe an escapee from a mental institution as even Lauren herself wonders, or if he is a projection of her thoughts of her husband.  I’m still on the fence, and so this little scene makes me feel that she is taking advantage of a mental incompetent, even to the point of considering it abuse.  I mean, " she put her hand in his shorts?"

I’m also a bit disappointed in Lauren’s self-centeredness and narcissism:

She wax-stripped hair from her armpits and legs.  It came ripping off in cold sizzles.  She had an acid exfoliating cream, hard-core, prescribed, and after she stripped the hair she rubbed in the cream to remove wastepapery skin in flakes and scales and little rolling boluses that she liked to hold between her fingers and imagine, unmorbidly, as the cell death of something inside her.

She used a monkey-hair brush on her elbows and knees.  She wanted it to hurt.

She didn’t have to go to Tangier to buy loofahs and orange sticks.  It was all in the malls, in the high aisles, and so were the facial brushes, razors and oatmeal scrubs.  (p. eighty-four)

It goes on, for another half page like this, and though I realize she may be some sort of "body artist" so that some of this is obviously necessary to her, it seems to tell me why she may not have noticed much about her husband while he was alive, and is so determined to make something of the strange Mr. Tuttle that he may not be at all.

Hope to finish this book tonight–the whole book at 120 pages is really a two-hour read if one read straight through.

This entry was posted in LITERATURE and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.