From the Publisher
"Elegant prose and literary lawlessness . . . In another country or another era, Cooper's books would be circulated in secret, explosive samizdat editions that friends and fans would pass around and savor like forbidden absinthe . . . high risk literature." New York Times
"Dennis Cooper, God help him, is a born writer." William Burroughs
"Larry's first-person narration is mesmerizing and believable. . . . Cooper fans will likely eat this up." Publishers Weekly
Cooper's latest, after a loosely intertwined series of novels ending with Period, stays firmly rooted in the same bleak, volatile landscape as his past works involving neglected, gay teenaged boys. Perpetually distraught teenager Larry, whose mantra is "I'm really confused," joins forces with a friend who has been approached at school by older classmate Gilman Crowe, leader of a Nazi-style teen group, and hired to kill a student for $500 and destroy his notebook, basically a diary containing the boys' personal secrets. The deed is done, but not exactly according to plan, and the violence continues. Larry and his 13-year-old brother habitually sneak into bed with each other, though Larry continues to be at war with his burgeoning homosexuality. An alcoholic mother and cancer-stricken father offer little supervision, and Larry's brutal rages escalate. When another of Larry's friends, Rand, tells him his incestuous relationship is "sick," Larry punches him; Rand dies soon afterward, apparently of natural causes, but Larry is crushed by guilt and haunted by the death. Cooper's bleak, potent tale wraps up in a Columbine-style climax, complete with smirking, self-righteous students watching the bloodbath with amusement. Cooper doesn't cover much new territory with this latest ultraviolent tale of boys gone wrong, but Larry's first-person narration is mesmerizing and believable. Those new to Cooper may be better off starting elsewhere in his oeuvre, especially since it can be hard to follow the sequence of events in this spare, dialogue-driven tale. Still, Cooper fans will likely eat this up. (June) Forecast: An appropriately gory, disturbing jacket will winnow out true fans from idle browsers. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Ever true to his transgressive muse, Cooper opens another shop of horrors suitable to follow his five-novel cycle (Period, 2000, etc.), here coupling sexually involved teenaged brothers with a post-Columbine world skanky enough to strike dread into the heart of any parent of adolescents. Larry, tormented and confused, thinks he has killed his best buddy Rand with a single punch delivered because his friend seemed to have a thing for his younger brother Jim. Guilt drives him, a year later, to use the punch again, this time to fulfill a contract taken out on a schoolmate-pimped to gays by his mother and slashed by her for her own pleasure-who's not really keen to live anyway, then buries the boy near the family vacation cabin of his girlfriend Jude. Confusion-about his relationships with Jim, Rand, and his drunken rival Pete-sours his relationship with Jude, whom he suspects of fooling around with Pete. But uncertainty about his sexual identity goes much deeper: Larry also tries to fool around with Pete, takes another male friend on a "date" only to beat him up and let the school's leading Nazi rape him, and visits the teenaged daughter of his therapist in her bedroom, all the while trying to parse just what is going on between him and Jim. Whatever it is, Jim seems to be on top. Larry learns that he didn't kill Rand, that in fact Rand committed suicide, and that the other boy he thought he'd killed was actually strangled by Pete. But instead of making him feel better, the news has the result of impelling him to shoot his cancer-ridden dad and drunken mom in their living room-while Jim is on the phone with his therapist. Enough glimpses of the familiar to make a skin-crawling read. In spiteof the taboos being flaunted, this is a remarkable portrait of a soul in hell.