Log in

No account? Create an account
"In the city of my birth, I had a dream..."
Closer by Dennis Cooper 
10th-Feb-2006 02:36 pm
This is one of the best lesbian and gay novels of all time? Really? God help us...

Cooper, Dennis. Closer. 1989. New York: Grove, 2002.
Summary: 1st book in the series. Pretty much everyone lusts after George Miles, using him to negotiate their desire for connection with others and their need to understand themselves.
Comments: This novel's structure is more akin to a series of interlocking short stories written from multiple perspectives advancing in more or less chronological order, and, indeed, the story was originally published in various venues piecemeal...in any case, the specifics of what happens are far less important than the overarching message: That the center is empty. These are characters who are trying to get "closer" to the essence of a person (another or perhaps themselves), but they can disembowel a boy and still not approach any greater meaning. In fact, Cooper would most likely argue that there isn't one, period. Indeed, it's the kid with the most active fantasy life that gets run over (literally). This is the only time that I can recall where the story is partially told from the victim of a failed snuff attempt, and the thought that George is going to have those scars on his backside for life just because he was unable to overcome his own inertia is kind of nauseating, when you think too long about it. The thing that fascinated me most, however, was the world of the novel itself. Though ostensibly set in the "present," which, given when the novel was first published, would have been the mid- to late- 80's, the entirety of the high school environment depicted was utterly apathetic about alternative sexuality. No prejudice, no intolerance--and high school students are not necessarily the most forgiving of crowds. Nobody cared, save the usually absent random parent, and at least eleven male characters are gay. (Oh, heterosexuality...where art thou?) I felt like I was being blasted into some dark mirror BL manga. Postmodern messages about the essential emptiness of modern life don't win me over...though they make for excellent literary pretensions.
Notes: trade paperback, 4th printing
Rating: 6.5/10 - The least challenging and most readily accessible of anything I've read by Cooper thus far. Worth checking out for his worldview.
15th-Feb-2006 12:18 am (UTC)
The more I find out about him the more I'm convinced that people's fascinations with things have little to do with themselves. Not that you can't find a relation within events of his life that lead directly to his obsessions, but just that sometimes you can't really control what intrigues you. Sorry for rambling on your journal, this probably has to do more with myself than with him.

Thank you for taking the time to post these things, it's really generous of you.
15th-Feb-2006 12:56 am (UTC)
Heh. I'm in no position to accuse anyone of rambling; these "reviews" are just thinly-veiled, largely unedited streams of consciousness on my part. They used to be unadorned text blocks until friends started pointing out that they were using them like reviews. So...I started formatting them like reviews. ^^;

Well, for what it's worth, Cooper's not alone in his treatment of these sorts of themes. Some have noted that it represents a literary movement of sorts...I've seen it called "blank fiction."
15th-Feb-2006 01:36 am (UTC) - blanks?

Why do you think he concentrates so much on fluids and body parts?
15th-Feb-2006 01:42 am (UTC) - Re: blanks?
Oh, this is the book that calls it "blank fiction."

Why do you think he concentrates so much on fluids and body parts?

Seems to me like the ultimate in objectification of the human body. No soul, no spiritual, greater meaning to people--they're just meat and mucus.
15th-Feb-2006 01:56 am (UTC) - Re: blanks?
I like Dennis, but sometimes I think it's almost as if it's evasion of characterization. Like he's using his weaknesses as a writer to create or use a style. I do see the meat&mucus thing, though. Body parts and fluids are easier than intention and drive and why. Or maybe I'm just trying to box him in.
15th-Feb-2006 02:01 am (UTC) - Re: blanks?
I'm not familiar at all with Cooper's bio, but according to the list of works in Closer, he'd written a bunch of things before that. Do you know if they were the same style, or if this was something he developed later in his career?
15th-Feb-2006 02:32 am (UTC) - Re: blanks?
I actually haven't read anything of his before the 90's so I'm drawing a blank there.

You've made me curious.
Do you have a list of the works? We could read them and assess, pretty much within the first chapter (first page? sentence?) whether the style is similar.

He also has some journalistic work (and poetry?) I haven't read. Have you? I wonder how he writes those.

Maybe hearing the music his characters seem to be obsessed about could help in understanding what his motivations are. He seems to be VERY into music.
15th-Feb-2006 02:37 am (UTC) - Re: blanks?
I don't know...all of the books by Cooper that I've read rehash the same themes over and over again. The list of works in Closer, however, is wholly unfamiliar to me:

He Cried
The Missing Men
The Tenderness of Wolves
Tiger Beat

I've no clue what these are. Short story anthologies? Poetry?

Of his newer work, God Jr. is supposed to be of a very different order. For what that knowledge is worth.
15th-Feb-2006 02:41 am (UTC) - tiger striped speedos
I'll try Tiger Beat, just because it sounds like cheesy gay 70's porn.

You take another, and let's hope we're not in for less skilled B.efore R.ehashing.
15th-Feb-2006 02:50 am (UTC) - Re: tiger striped speedos
I'll dig around and see if I can find any of them at a reasonable price after I get paid again. >_< I've already got two of his other books (which I already know have the same themes going), and I tend to be backlogged for months. Please don't hold your breath. ^^;;;;
15th-Feb-2006 02:54 am (UTC) - Re: tiger striped speedos
oh don't worry
i don't expect it

you probably have a whole bunch of books you have to read already so i'll just assume it will be read sometime this year

besides your current reading-mood-- i'm that way too-- doesn't fit it at all & it would be unwise to force it
15th-Feb-2006 07:31 pm (UTC) - Re: tiger striped speedos
you probably have a whole bunch of books you have to read already

Hundreds, actually. >_<

besides your current reading-mood-- i'm that way too-- doesn't fit it at all & it would be unwise to force it

That's always an unpredictable thing...so it's always good to be prepared! I'm also one of those people who go on "kicks"--lots of a certain type of book all at once.
28th-Feb-2006 02:07 pm (UTC)
Review archived.
This page was loaded Apr 23rd 2018, 1:57 am GMT.