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Truth Serum

Overview

Cooper offers his most moving and poignant effort yet. In a memoir at once affecting, witty, and dead-on accurate, he gives us the chance to accompany him as he reinvents memory - from Theresa Sanchez, the worldly and sophisticated girl who sat behind him in ninth-grade algebra, to the events surrounding his mother's purchase of a Kenmore freezer, to his experience in 1974 with a psychiatrist who mainlined him with a truth-telling cocktail intended to "reduce the frequency and intensity" of the author's sexual ...
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Overview

Cooper offers his most moving and poignant effort yet. In a memoir at once affecting, witty, and dead-on accurate, he gives us the chance to accompany him as he reinvents memory - from Theresa Sanchez, the worldly and sophisticated girl who sat behind him in ninth-grade algebra, to the events surrounding his mother's purchase of a Kenmore freezer, to his experience in 1974 with a psychiatrist who mainlined him with a truth-telling cocktail intended to "reduce the frequency and intensity" of the author's sexual fantasies involving men.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The novelist and essayist's highly praised memoir of adolescence and gay awakening in 1960s' L.A. June
Kirkus Reviews
A riveting, masterfully crafted memoir by essayist and novelist Cooper (A Year of Rhymes, 1993, etc.) that should find a wide readership beyond the gay market.

Really a sequence of autobiographical essays, the book mostly concerns how Cooper's experience of being gay has affected him throughout his life. The life in question is superficially ordinary: Cooper grew up middle-class and vaguely Jewish in Los Angeles in the '60s, the only child of a divorce lawyer and a housewife; he went to college and eventually began teaching literature. Although chronologically ordered, the chapters sometimes leap decades to draw thematic connections and reinforce emotional epiphanies. At the end of a chapter about his childhood entitled "Imitation of Life," for instance, Cooper recalls strolling West Hollywood's exuberant gay strip one night in his 25th year at the moment that, unbeknownst to him, his mother died in bed. Capturing perfectly the simultaneous tragedy and thrill of the moment, he concludes with heartbreaking grace: "The night was warm, impending, alive, as if longing itself were an aspect of the air, like humidity or wind." Cooper's tales of youth, particularly one about disposing of a cache of pornography, can be very funny as well as psychologically astute. When he covers common markers of the gay experience, from adolescent crushes and coming out to therapy and the gym, he avoids clich├ęs entirely; several splendid passages, such as one about an affair with a stand-up comic who gradually spiraled downward into mental illness, read like tragicomic fiction. Great set pieces abound, as when he and his widower father find themselves equally incapable of open discussion about their romantic lives. And Cooper's account of how AIDS has entered his life is as honest and unsparing as any yet written.

Recalling his impressions with what feels like uncanny accuracy, Cooper at once inhabits his memories and reshapes them with detachment. This is exhilarating writing.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780395859940
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 6/1/1997
  • Pages: 224
  • Product dimensions: 5.34 (w) x 7.94 (h) x 0.67 (d)

Table of Contents

Where to Begin 1
101 Ways to Cook Hamburger 3
Burl's 15
Imitation of Life 28
Arson 64
Almost Like Language 81
Truth Serum 97
The Fine Art of Sighing 111
Against Gravity 114
Picking Plums 162
Train of Thought 177
If and When 180
Tone Poem 223
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