LITERATURE: The Body Artist – The REAL Wrap-up

So I pick the book back up off the top of the "Read" pile (Read as in red, not as reed, which pile is still ten times as large) and head to the garage, first flicking the lightswitch on and grabbing a cup of cold morning coffee (stop wincing, I like 24, even 48-hour-old coffee).  I grab a cigarette and as I flick the Blick, I spill coffee on the last page as I read and walk back to sit on the doorstep.  This upsets me; I am one to keep a book as pure and pristine as when I opened it, but not as upset as had it been Solitude. 

I realize that in losing that closing post and condensing a replacement, I have been unfair in not offering some excerpts as I poke the words to find the holes.  Here then, an example of my accusatory "authorly" statement.  Lauren is heading into her bedroom, half expecting to see not Mr. Tuttle, but her husband, Rey:

He sits on the edge of the bed in his underwear, lighting the last cigarette of the day.

Are you unable to imagine such a thing even when you see it?

Is the thing that’s happening so far outside experience that you’re forced to make excuses for it, or give it the petty credentials of some misperception?

Is reality too powerful for you?

Take the risk.  Believe what you see and hear.  It’s the pulse of every secret intimation you’ve ever felt around the edges of your life.  (p. 122)

At this point, I’m singing Hallelujah!  I BELIEVE!  But in truth, I don’t.  And neither does Lauren.  She’s still messed up, but in accepting a Rey hallucination even for a flash of moment, and realizing it is memory and wish, she is coming to accept herself. This is real important to her.  More so than wondering why her husband committed suicide.  And this:

Her mother died when she was nine.  It wasn’t her fault.  It had nothing to do with her.

And this closing:

She walked into the room and went to the window.  She opened it.  She threw the window open.  She didn’t know why she did this.  Then she knew. (MY NOTE:  This "then she knew" is a welcome change to DeLillo’s constant "Or maybe she did.")  She wanted to feel the sea tang on her face and the flow of time in her body, to tell her who she was.  (p. 124)

So while I think that the narrator is getting sort of preachy in the first excerpt, the last couple hit me as revealing Lauren as a self-centered individual incapable of having the deep questioning thoughts that DeLillo accords her.  This is my basis for wishing to hear more of what DeLillo has to say on the matter of time and how our lives figure into it–or out of it, but do not feel that he has given us believable characters to voice it for him.

This would definitely have been a good book for discussion because while I can see the alternate perceptions, I would love to have been convinced.

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