Truth Serum: Memoirs

Bernard Cooper, Author
Bernard Cooper, Author Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) $21.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-395-74539-7
Reviewed on: 03/04/1996
Release date: 03/01/1996
Paperback - 225 pages - 978-0-395-85994-0
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Cooper's memoir of growing up gay in Los Angeles has at its center the title piece, ""Truth Serum,"" and it is Cooper at his best: exquisite, funny, wise and blessed with a novelist's gift for the epiphanic image. The sodium Pentothol and amphetamine ""cocktail"" administered to Cooper by his therapist so that he can reduce his attraction to men ironically empowers him to accept his homosexuality, which he does while huddling out of the rain in a doorway in Greenwich Village, newly emboldened to leave his girlfriend. Cooper is a likable sort, and very bright company, if a bit solipsistic (though he is often a solipsist in a sea of narcissists). But the aftereffects of the sodium Pentothol manage to pervade the whole book: it is endlessly chatty and rambling and makes the deadly assumption that an emotional life is necessarily interesting once expressed. And the corollary assumption, that such expression is heroic because it is in a homosexual key, grates. Still, Cooper's writing talent (he wrote the well-received novel A Year of Rhymes) and his alert and often graphic portrait of gay life among professionals in L.A. will find its appreciative readers. (May)
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