?

Log in

No account? Create an account
~生まれた町で夢見てきた...~
"In the city of my birth, I had a dream..."
Hmm...I don't seem to be making good choices of reading material, lately. 
29th-Dec-2005 10:22 am
Winter
And I'm afraid that my reading list is just hopelessly out-of-date. (Note how nothing read lately is listed on it? Well, that's not coincidental. >_< )

Anyway, I picked up a few random Dennis Cooper books off of the remainder pile and thought I'd give them a try. I don't have his debut novel Closer, however, and that seems to be the one that most are familiar with. Ah, well. Beggars can't be choosers, you know.

Cooper, Dennis. Frisk. New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1991.
Summary: 2nd book in the series. As a boy, Dennis sees a series of "snuff" pornography photos and, though as a teen he meets the subject of those photos and discovers it was all fake, becomes obsessed with the intersection of violence and sexual attraction. He starts writing letters to people he knows, telling them of his murderous exploits which all turn out to be imagined--looking for someone to participate with him in the real thing. What he gets instead are two of his old lovers, Julian and his brother Kevin, who help him make his own faked snuff photos.
Comments: This is the first Dennis Cooper book that I've ever read, and, while the writing itself strikes me as both well-thought-out and literary,this novella's subject, in and of itself, seemed more calculated to a base shock than to enlightenment or uplift. Given that this book was written almost fifteen years ago, well, maybe it WAS unprecedented back then. I really don't know. My lukewarm reaction could, once again, be my utter jadedness (You think reading about snuff in prose form is bad? Try it in hentai manga form!) and the perhaps tragic realization that nothing much shocks me anymore. Maybe some will find Dennis's yearnings toward violence to be a turn-on, but for me it was just tedious. The story is cleverly-written so that you get the story from multiple viewpoints--Henry's stoned out circumstances, Dennis's prose fantasy about Joe's actual death, the letters that he's written to his friend and acquaintances, the lives of those receiving the letters, etc.--and moreover you don't know until the end if the guy's ACTUALLY killing all those men and boys or not. But if that's suspense...coulda fooled me.
Notes: hardcover, 1st edition, 2nd printing, out-of-print; trade paperback edition available (Trade paperback edition pictured)
Rating: 5.5/10 - Seems to exist purely for shock-value. Actually, if it weren't so well-written, I would've given it an even lower rating.
Comments 
29th-Dec-2005 04:59 pm (UTC)
I'm wondering how the title relates to snuff exactly.
29th-Dec-2005 05:01 pm (UTC)
I don't think it does. It relates to the main character, and how he pores over their skin (trying to figure out what's inside...eww) like a "frisk" (police search). I think, anyway. ^^;;;;
29th-Dec-2005 05:03 pm (UTC)
Too much information^_^
29th-Dec-2005 05:04 pm (UTC)
Sorry. Like I said, I'm very, very jaded. XD

At least I didn't go into all the rimming scenes and the main characters' obsession with human feces...
29th-Dec-2005 05:14 pm (UTC)
Feel free to stop now^^
29th-Dec-2005 06:11 pm (UTC)
This is the first Dennis Cooper book that I've ever read, and, while the writing itself strikes me as both well-thought-out and literary,this novella's subject, in and of itself, seemed more calculated to a base shock than to enlightenment or uplift

I've only read one Denis Cooper book, as well, and that was my impression. I picked it up because Cooper seemed interesting in an interview I read (this was about fifteen years ago, too) and I was pretty underwhelmed. Cooper seemed to be all about shock (this one dealt with pedophilia and included a cynical underage boy who seduces his gay uncle). Maybe I just "don't get" Cooper but I was a hard time finding what the story was about, aside from shock.

I remember one thing that I found interesting about Cooper was when he criticized David Leavitt (and authors like Leavitt, but it was Leavitt he mentioned by name) for being too assimilationist and denying the renegade nature of queer sexuality. Cooper's work didn't really impress me for backing up that statement.
29th-Dec-2005 06:17 pm (UTC)
Come to think of it, I think my biggest problem with Frisk was that it didn't have much in the way of genuine emotional weight. If it had been shock-value plus in-depth human psychology or something, I would've been way more impressed. Without the emotional depth, it just felt soulless. I have a couple of other books by Cooper, so I'll see if any others leave a more favorable impression.
29th-Dec-2005 06:56 pm (UTC)
Soulless... that's a very apt way of putting it.

The interviewer commented that Cooper's stories depict jaded, burnt-out youths with a desperate need to feel. The Cooper story I read (I think it was named Try?) did manage that and I guess, with that in mind, I guess it was appropriate that I never felt anything more than apathy towards the characters.

I guess some of my dissatisfaction was that I didn't get a good feel for Cooper in that book. I wanted to get a feeling for why he wrote this story and was left feeling empty.
29th-Dec-2005 07:17 pm (UTC)
I would think that all authors aspire toward reader empathy, sympathy, or at least compassion on some level towards their characters. If all you feel is apathy, then Cooper probably didn't do his writerly job very well. I've seen some gay writers use the same kind of taboo material to tremendous emotional effect, so I guess it just depends.

Though, honestly, I can't figure out how being a burnt-out youth has anything inherently to do with the "renegade nature of queer sexuality." If anything, it just sounds like Catcher and the Rye updated for the 90's.
29th-Dec-2005 10:46 pm (UTC)
I think you hit on why Cooper's book didn't work for me, I never got to understand the characters; I only got plenty of voyeuristic glimpses into how messed up they were. No sympathy or empathy were evoked for me.

Though, honestly, I can't figure out how being a burnt-out youth has anything inherently to do with the "renegade nature of queer sexuality." If anything, it just sounds like Catcher and the Rye updated for the 90's.

Yeah, I didn't get a better understanding to Cooper's perspective in that sense. I began to think of Cooper as one of those people who discovers himself an outsider and tries to turn it into something confrontational.
29th-Dec-2005 07:24 pm (UTC)
If you think Frisk the novel bad, you should watch the film adaptation. Shudder.

Actually I rather enjoyed Cooper's book, in an uncomfortable kind of way. Closer is even less approachable IMO, being less a novel than a series of vaguely related short stories, with pretty much the same fixations as Frisk, and even more disturbing because the sexual violence is definitely for real. OTOH with Closer I could feel genuine sympathy for George, the central character unlike Dennis.
29th-Dec-2005 07:30 pm (UTC)
If you think Frisk the novel bad, you should watch the film adaptation. Shudder.

There's a movie version? ^^;;;;;;;;;; Is it American?

I guess I've been unimpressed by sexualized violence in general after reading all of Aaron Travis's (aka Steven Saylor) short stories, to be honest.
29th-Dec-2005 07:46 pm (UTC)
Yes. Famously it caused GLBT film festival audiences to walk out in disgust. It's just bad. I can't think of ANY redeeming feature. Even if you're into graphic sex & violence (which I'm not).

My review
29th-Dec-2005 07:53 pm (UTC)
Well, isn't that just lovely? *sighs*

As far as I'm concerned, kinky stories, especially when NOT something I'm into, redeem themselves if they can show my why other people are into it and make me sympathize with the emotions and desires of those people. Frisk didn't do that for me...and, in fact, the novel make the whole snuff kink by the end seem a bit ridiculous and pointless. Which, if that's what you're going to conclude at the end of your novel, why did you bother even attempting to treat material that most people consider pointless from the start?
1st-Jan-2006 04:04 am (UTC)
Review archived.
This page was loaded Apr 24th 2018, 8:58 am GMT.