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5.0 out of 5 stars DENNIS DISAPPEARS INTO OBSCURITY, 14 Sep 2000
This review is from: Period (Hardcover)
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. Anonymous, (literally) dismebodied voices talk at you out of the fog, carrying on their conversations with very little reference to the fact that they're hacking up a body or being molested by the Devil, and this lack of context only makes it more intriguingly difficult to figure out what's going on. Technically, Cooper's dazed, vague narrative style has never been sharper, making this the shortest novel of the series (it's entirely possible to read it in one sitting, and I suggest you do). Perhaps it is the case that, by now, Cooper knows his most devoted readers will be able to fill in the gaps for themselves, or perhaps the air of general confusion and mirror-images repeating themselves into infinity was the only way to bring the series to a conclusion. Either way, as the end of the cycle, it all makes perfect sense for some reason.
As a book in its own right, however, I'm not sure how well it functions. Even though this is not a sequel in any way, so much still depends on you knowing what's come before it that it's difficult to imagine anyone who hasn't read the previous books making any sense of it whatsoever. If you haven't read Dennis Cooper before, my advice would be to go back to the start and read the books in order. But if you've been waiting for the final instalment, prepare to be... perplexed?
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Period by Dennis Cooper (Paperback - 2 Nov 2000)
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