cover image Frisk


Dennis Cooper. Grove/Atlantic, $17.95 (128pp) ISBN 978-0-8021-1399-3

Cooper has produced edgy works of fiction ( Safe ; Closer ), but this novel is his most disturbing. The narrator of this study in brutal sexuality and psychosis is an emotionally detached, intelligent man named Dennis. Cooper traces key episodes in Dennis's life over two decades, following his interest in gay pornography. In the '70s, Dennis and his lover, Julian, engage in three-way sexual encounters with strangers. One of their partners is a drugged-up young man who turns out to be the model in faked snuff photos Dennis discovered as a teen. When Julian accidentally knocks the youth's head against a table, the incident triggers in Dennis an ongoing obsession--the perverse imagining of murdering anonymous lovers after sex. Cooper immerses us in Dennis's conflicting thoughts, which he articulates with frightening lucidity. The book is drenched in homoerotic desires of several varieties, from Dennis' fascination with Julian's psychologically disturbed younger brother to his intellectualized encounters with Pierre, a hustler who listens as Dennis airs his murderous thoughts. After Dennis takes off for Amsterdam, he writes Julian a detailed account of his erotic killing spree, but with a surprise twist. Horrific as these passages are, they testify to Cooper's exceptional boldness. (May)