September 27th, 2011 / 5:27 pm

Anybody who’s remotely interested in the art of/work of writing should pick up the current issue of The Paris Review and flip to Dennis Cooper’s interview. It is pure inspiration.


  1. postitbreakup

      It’s really a terrific interview, got his autobio stuff about George Miles, stuff about how he structured the cycle, influences on his work from different genres, perception of his work, etc. excellence

  2. jh

      On the strength of the interview I picked up “Closer” and found it to be nearly unreadable. Anyone have a recommended gentler introduction to his work?

  3. M. Kitchell

      My Loose Thread is, I guess, often considered his “mainstream” title, though I personally find it his weakest.  What did you find unreadable about it?

  4. teddtrees

      Yeah, jh, what is it about Closer that turned you off so much? 

  5. Ken Baumann

      Like M. and ted, I’m curious too! But I came to Dennis’ work through God Jr., which is great.

  6. Joseph

      All of Dennis’s major works are impeccable, in my opinion, and highly readable. I would say that Closer was a fine place to start. But, perhaps try to borrow a copy of his most recent poetry collection The Weaklings?

  7. Bradley Sands

      I remember thinking My Loose Thread was his most inaccessible book. Or maybe Period for people who haven’t read the books of the cycle that come before it.

  8. Bradley Sands

      God Jr. is by far his most accessible book, but it’s not really a good introduction considering it’s a lot different than all of his other books. The Sluts may be a good introduction if you’re down with reading a novel that consists entirely of fictional online reviews of male prostitutes and Internet posts from a forum (it’s a really great book and has a mystery aspect to it). As far as “the cycle,” I thought Closer was really accessible and a good introduction, so maybe his books just aren’t for you (besides maybe God Jr.).

  9. Bradley Sands

      Also thought it was his weakest book. Forgot to mention that. It just sort of repeated much of what had already gone on before it in The Cycle.

  10. davidpeak

      Hi jh,

      I started with Ugly Man, just to see what the fuss was all about. It’s an incredibly varied collection–in both form and content–and can serve as a convenient primer for some of Dennis’s favored themes and subjects. Plus, it only takes a few sittings to read, so if it doesn’t quite suit your tastes you won’t lose a lot of time. 

      I’d recommend giving that book a go and then, if you’re up for it, giving Closer another read now that your expectations have changed. Plus, I think it’s a book that merits re-reading in general.

      My experience with Dennis’s books–and his blog as well–is that you need to give them time and meet them on their own terms. If you can stick with it and get into what he’s doing, it’s extremely rewarding.

  11. Jeff

      GOD JR is what I’d recommend – it’s his gentlest book, but still excellent and inventive. 

  12. M. Kitchell

      hah, man, i have been a dennis mega fan since like 2002 and i still haven’t managed to track a copy of that down due to the limited edition being too expensive & the paperback version never, apparently, actually being released (and it’s not in the damn inter-library-loan system either :( )

  13. jh

      I thought the sex writing was sloppy and kind of gross. I also cringed reading de Sade, so clearly that’s personal, but I feel like if you’re gonna go there you should give the reader some fresh images/language. I did like the perspective-shifts and the dream states, and George Miles is an interesting character, although I find the way Cooper uses his name and then more or less destroys him in a deeply graphic and humiliating way really disturbing.

      NB: He is clearly really smart and his interview made me want to read his stuff. I’ve read the Amazon preview of ‘The Sluts’ and that seems a little more interesting.

  14. Ken Baumann

      Yeah, what David said below, but I’d give the Closer (and then the cycle) another shot. After reading more of his books, I’ve realized that the way he writes in/through sexual situations is totally unique and, yes, frustrating and disturbing, but also really dead on and more interesting & philosophically provocative than most other writing about lust and sex. And outside of that, the logic that moves his writing sentence to sentence is amazingly deep and rewrites the limit of the tenable thread between ideas.

  15. teddtrees

      Or perhaps start with The Dream Police, which collects Cooper’s earlier poetic output and gives the best introduction to his obsessions and predilections in a slim, easily-accessible volume?

  16. Russ

       I’m a big fan of Ugly Man and all of his short stuff.  I haven’t really delved into the cycle, though.

  17. Jax

      I’d try ‘Try’, actually. For me it has an easier-to-follow story.