3:am has a fantastic interview with Dennis Cooper regarding, among other things, Ugly Man (which I read in one sitting last week and loved, a possible explanation for my recent influx of sublimely jarring dreams), and includes the quote: “The generally held idea that the kinds of things I write about aren’t ’serious’ or aren’t what a truly serious literary work would concentrate on is just an insurmountable and boring enemy that I accepted would be there for all eternity a long time ago.”
One of the many great talents of Dennis Cooper is his knack for making the ‘profane’ or arcane seem not simply a specialized, ritual act, but a bevel in the everyday, of people. Among such commonly taboo subjects as rape, murder, S&M, you name it, Cooper’s work manages to funnel these acts not into the hands of the typically insane or ‘specialized’ bodies, but kids that lives in homes with parents, everyday kids, school kids, and people. I’ve several times been eerily moved by Cooper’s work in finding how close it felt to certain people I went to middle school with: the kid with the rat tail and cut off pants singing Cramps songs in the gym while everyone else tried to cooperate with the bowling unit, and he’s there kicking pins over, laughing. Several times that year he’d get his ass kicked, and others would be similarly embedded on my brain: the kid who brought in brass knuckles to fight behind the lunch room, the kids doing pink pills in the back of Ms. Storey’s English class and choking each other out to get off, etc. These elements are the everyday lining in those everydays, the bits that ride with me more than any of it, and so strangely, I’ve often found that read Cooper somehow taps into that mode, bringing it out not as a circus act, but as the thread in the simultaneously under-the-soil and always-right-there rhizome that it is.
In honor of his brand new collection ‘Ugly Man‘ (which I am all kinds of excited for), a couple of video interviews with Dennis Cooper about the book and his career, publishing, and punk, from Harper Perennial’s Olive TV videos.