Saturday, September 18, 2010

No One Cares For Me

Dennis Cooper is one of the few writers living today who is not only transgressive, but has a distinct style of writing that is completely his own. He is dichotomous - his voice is lyrical and poetic, yet stripped down and succinct, unembellished sentences cutting through to naked meaning. Cooper smears his brain across the page, giving us a glimpse inside, as he explores his fascination with the lines between sex/murder, worship/torture, obsession/indifference. He penetrates the mechanics of human desire and motivation through a drug-induced/evolved clarity via ob/subjective observation of others in relation to his personal madness.

Dennis Cooper's books about predatory males who hack up beautiful boys, or dream about it, intimidate some people. Alex James of Blur pulled out of an interview with him, and Queer Nation issued him with a death threat. Even Marilyn Manson refused to let him write a cover story on him for an American music magazine.

But Cooper's books are more than gorefests. They're also romantic. The men take the objects of their desire apart in a bid to understand the awesome power they have over them. The Guardian hit on it when they said that a desire for love infects the carnage. In Cooper's novel 'Try', the central character Ziggy says to his foster father: "If you loved me you wouldn't rim me while I'm crying." Perhaps his work unsettles some people because it unflinchingly dissects his own dark fantasies.

drawings by Math Tinder

At the age of 11 sex and violence linked themselves, quite literally, in the writer's head when a friend he had a crush on split Cooper's head open with an axe. At 12 he hiked to a place in the mountains behind his house where three boys had been raped and killed. Upon reaching the spot, Cooper found himself gripped by a feeling of eroticised fear and fascination. And in the ninth grade Cooper met his beloved friend George Miles. Miles had deep psychological problems and Cooper took him under his wing. Years later, when Cooper was 30, he had a brief love affair with the 27-year-old Miles. The cycle of books (Closer 1989, Frisk 1991, Try 1994, Guide 1997 and Period 1999) were an attempt by Cooper to get to the bottom of both his fascination with sex and violence and his feelings for Miles. This project, which took Cooper nearly twenty years to realize, would later become known as The George Miles Cycle.

Cooper was an outsider and the leader of a group of poets, punks, stoners, and writers. After high school he attended Pasadena City College, and later, Pitzer College, where he had a poetry teacher who was to inspire him to pursue his writing outside of institutions of higher learning.

Deerhunter have cited Dennis Cooper as a lyrical influence.

Deerhunter - But I'm a Boy
Deerhunter - When I Taste Blood (mp3)
Deerhunter - Cordless (mp3)

Listen to Deerhunter's latest album 'Halcyon Digest' here.


  1. This is may be the best little summing-up of what DC is all about I’ve ever seen. Just great. Do you know Math?

  2. Hi Alan,

    Thanks for the comment.

    I don't know Math. Do you?



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