The Body Artist cannot really be called a novel (and barely a novella) with a total of 126 pages and a font size of fifteen or more, but for its shortness I’m glad. “She rubbed in the cream to remove wastepapery skin in flakes and scales and little rolling boluses that she like to hold between her fingers and imagine, unmorbidly, at the cell death of something inside her.”
The book is full of these exhortations on life and humanity that serve more to annoy and aggravate than to enlighten and impress. Lauren Hartke is the body artist of the title, her husband committed suicide, and she is now spending time in this cottage by the sea where it seems she is steadily losing her mind, even though her intention is to reorganize her life. A teenager of some sort suddenly appears in her life, whom she names Mr. Tuttle after one of her high school teachers, for the boy is retarded in some way and unable to make cognizant sense, much like little Nell. The result is a novel that simply defies any sense of logic and affords the reader very little enjoyment.
Originally published on May 13th 2002.
Originally published in the Long Beach Union.