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Period [Paperback]

Dennis Cooper
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

2 Nov 2000
Period - the end of the sentence, and the final statement of Dennis Cooper?s five-book cycle. Provocative and controversial, Cooper has charted a fearlessly radical path exploring the themes of sex and death, youth culture and the search for the ineffable, perfect object of desire. Period is the culmination of that exploration and features strangely irresistible but interchangeable young men, passion that becomes murder, the lure of drugs, the culpability of authorship, and the inexact, haunting communication of feeling, all set against a backdrop of secret websites, Goth bands, pornography and Outsider art.

Product details

  • Paperback: 120 pages
  • Publisher: Serpent's Tail (2 Nov 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1852426713
  • ISBN-13: 978-1852426712
  • Product Dimensions: 19.4 x 12.8 x 1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 503,043 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Dennis Cooper is the winner of the Ferro-Grumley Award for Closer, and Guide was a Los Angeles Times bestseller and one of its Ten Best Books of the Year. He lives in Los Angeles.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars DENNIS DISAPPEARS INTO OBSCURITY 14 Sep 2000
This is the last instalment of Cooper's five novel cycle, a kind of literary full-stop that manages to revisit most of his familiar obsessions - death, cute boys, drugs, sex - in the most sparse and minimalistic prose he has ever created. It is also, in part, the continuing story of the beautiful but deeply disturbed George Miles, the object of everyones desire in the first book 'Closer', and the hero of a fictional novel - 'Period' - by his one-time lover Walker Crane. Now George may or may not have suffered a brutal rape which has left him in a wheelchair, a deaf mute called Dagger who looks remarkably like him and who has suffered a remarkably similar fate may or may not be talking to him through a mirror from a parallel universe, he may or may not be the boy in the pictures on a web site devoted to the book (as might many of the other characters), and he may or may not have shot himself in the head. Radiating out from all this uncertainty are Leon and Nate, or Noel and Etan, two kids from Dagger's universe, or perhaps another parallel dimension all of their own, or perhaps reality, whose own stories form a mirror-like frame around the central chapter, and whose fortunes at the end of the book are somehow completely the reverse of how they were at the start. Add to this the satanic goth band The Omen, who speed around the countryside murdering innocent hitchhikers and spouting fake, devil-worshipping nonsense, and the stage is set for Cooper's most mesmerisingly bizarre slice of fiction ever.
The novel's intensity comes from its almost complete lack of descriptive passages. Compared to 'Frisk' and 'Closer', which revelled in their goriness to a certain extent, 'Period' reads more like a radio play.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.1 out of 5 stars  13 reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Love and Dismemberment 30 Mar 2001
By Mr Jamie Russell - Published on
Few novelists pursue their chosen themes with such morbid enthusiasm as Dennis Cooper. For more than a decade his quintet of novels - Closer, Frisk, Try, Guide and now Period - have obsessed over sex, child pornography, drugs and dismemberment. Undeterred even by death threats, Cooper has played out his violent fantasies in these novels with a disturbing purity of vision. His new novel Period marks, as its title suggests, the end of the cycle. He's claimed that it's both a `disappearing act' and a `suicide note.' Considering the spectral and sparse quality of the book both comments seem particularly appropriate.
The quintet began back in 1989 with Closer. Yet it was Cooper's 1991 novel Frisk that really stirred controversy, deliberately blurring the line between fantasy and reality and securing its author a place at the cutting edge of contemporary American literature. Period draws out the same themes and concerns as the preceding novels, charting the bored angst of gay West Coast adolescents and their middle-aged paramours as they drift into experiments with drugs, Satanism, sex and ultimately murder. Like grim parodies of Enlightenment anatomists, Cooper's protagonists believe that dismembering the bodies of their lovers will reveal the truth of existence, bringing them closer to an absent God and saving them from the demystified consumer culture that surrounds them.
What has always been so impressive about Cooper's work is his dedication to narrative forms that replicate the violent content of the books. His prose has sought to cut into the flat surface of the conventional pornographic or horror text through the use of flashbacks, narratives-within-narratives, and stream of consciousness techniques. In Period this relationship between form and content reaches its peak, creating a fragmented and confusing novel that refuses easy definition. It's certainly the sparsest of Cooper's books, a skeleton thin, episodic narrative that's like the decomposed body of one of the story's victims. Indeed, the novel is so cut up that the reader has no choice but to follow the advice of the epigraph and `keep watch over absent meaning'. Shifting between different characters' viewpoints, radio phone-ins, Internet chat rooms and diaries Cooper creates a disturbing hall of mirrors through which we're left to wander without a guide. Although Period's obliqueness is slightly dissatisfying it appears ultimately inevitable, for what else but a self-reflexive `period' could end this set of books?
Period confirms Cooper's growing reputation as the most exciting and transgressive of contemporary American novelists. However, as last year's publication of Cooper's journalism and essays - in the collection All Ears - has demonstrated, his work has much more scope than this obsessively brilliant cycle of novels. He's currently working on a book based upon the recent spate of American High School shootings and has also expressed a desire to experiment with a novel of physical comedy (he cites the films of Jacques Tatti, Jerry Lewis and Jackie Chan as a potential source of inspiration). Whatever path he may choose his next offering will be awaited eagerly on both sides of the Atlantic.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The equal of 'Frisk' 27 Sep 2000
By A Customer - Published on
The photo of 'Walker Crane' (a take on Wes Craven, of 'Scream' fame??) at the back of the book looks like an uglier, more descript version of Tim Robbins, but maybe it's just the lighting. The character Henry is my favourite in this book. He's so obssessive that all of his victims begin to look the same and their continued existence comes to depend on a trivial yet all important event in his past. The idea that physical beauty helps us deny what we are is an important theme here. The surface is just gift wrapping, but even the 'deep, incontrovertible' truth of blood and sinew is mute and meaningless. This is the best book ever written on the pointlessness of desire. Highly recommended.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Literary Cliff-Walking as Payoff 12 Mar 2000
By A Customer - Published on
Cooper's "Period" is a fitting finish to his cycle of novels which examine the extremities of human desire. It is a sparse, elegant, poetic mind game that references its 4 predecessors, while giving a final spin to Cooper's themes. Cooper has always taken great risks with his extreme subject matter, and that's no different here. "Period" might be graphic and disturbing, but the writing is so fine that the book cannot be dismissed as mere sexualized horror fiction. "George," the main character in the first novel of the cycle, re-emerges as a focal point; yet he and many of the other characters seem oddly one and the same. The book uses a doppelganger device, via a rather humorous introduction of teens dabbling in Satanism and also a sort of magic mirror, to allow characters' identities to swap back and forth. The author himself is present in the story, as in the previous novels, though not with the name "Dennis" this time. In fact, there are two artists/authors in the narrative, further exploring ideas of what makes up identity. Cooper has great fun with this idea, in his typically morbid fasion. Reality and fiction blur constantly, as the novel winds through its unnamed town where boys prey on each other, a goth-rock band gathers human victims for its "art," and the artist/author builds a spooky memorial for "George" in the form of a pitch black house haunted by memory, longing, and desire. Cooper is really writing about love in all its power, and he does this using things that usually conjure up the opposite of love. The fact that he accomplishes all this in just over 100 pages, with spare prose that evolves into poetry at unexptected times, makes this novel, and the entire cycle, an absolute classic. Fans of the previous novels should love "Period." However, for the uninitiated, the density of the mind game Cooper plays out here makes this one definitely not the place to start. "Period" is a book that resonates in the mind long after the last sentence is read. It is worthy of high praise and attention, but is surely not for the squeamish or easily intimidated. It will be exciting to see where Cooper takes his writing after this.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars lifestyle choices? 16 Mar 2000
By A Customer - Published on
this one's even foggier, you just don't know what's going on, hardly any of the ultra detailed descriptions of, say, Guide, instead you're left with voices, diary entries and 'anonymous' internet chat, while the 'plot' just vanishes inside this multi mirrored projection hall. we're not really in the city anymore either, it's a small town, then a forest, then a house in a forest, and then someone gets lost in this house. Blair Witch? this is even scarier, I suppose, as we're left with traces, memories, voices and the usual all consuming dance of death and desire. Where next? we can't leave that house anymore, so we have to go back to 'Closer' and one of its characters, and we have to start a website with some strange photos of some distant looking boy, who we're slowly getting obsessed with...did i understand? are these still lifestyle choices? actually these are probably 5 stars, for at least 5 books. goodnight.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Difficulty Defining and Destroying Desire 14 July 2001
By njr - Published on
"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.
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