"Period" is likely to anger many Cooper fans due to its spare qualities in narrative, character, form. Cooper has always written about desire, particularly it's darkest manifestations and results. Cooper's books are short, extreme, and demand that they roll around the subconscious of the reader. "Period" is no different, but here everything Cooper has worked toward in the 4 previous novels in this cycle is reported flatly, obscurely, and sometimes causes great aggravation in the reader.
However, interviews with Cooper have revealed that "George Miles" was a real person who left deep emotional marks in Cooper. His mutilation in "Closer," the first in the cycle, seems like an attempt to exorcise the author's feeling for his object of obsession. George's absence (or mere mention) in the next 3 books makes it seem like the author was successful. Those 3 books ("Frisk," "Try," "Guide)all deal in some way with the attempt to vanquish desire. Exploration of the extremes in human thought and behavior distance the obsession over something the author, who is always a character in some fashion in the cycle, cannot have.
Interviews say that Cooper found that the real George Miles committed suicide, years after their relationship. "Period" takes that as a cue to move everything toward death - desire, the author himself, any characters that happen to appear in the midst. This book mirrors Cooper's others, but leaves us in the end only with ourselves and interpretations. The book has a formal structure where the prose is allowed to mirror itself foremost, the other books in the cycle secondly, and ourselves - probably most disturbingly.
Under all the sex, gore, minimalism, and luridness of Cooper's novels is a profound meditation on who we are, what relationships mean, how expression cannot contain reality, and the various meanings of love.
This is strong stuff. "Period" is not the place to start for a novice. But it's one hell of a book-long poem about desire, and therefore a fitting end to the five book cycle. What Cooper does next is already an intriguing subject. He might just be the last American writer with any guts. A master; a masterwork.