cover image Wrong: Stories

Wrong: Stories

Dennis Cooper / Author Grove/Atlantic $18.95 (165p) ISBN 978-0

A first short-story collection by novelist-poet Cooper ( Frisk ; The Tenderness of Wolves ), this book is relentlessly unpleasant if skillfully written. Cooper's obsessions--serial killers, drugged-out male hustlers, abusive gay relationships--run through the collection like the chorus of a particularly nihilistic rock song. Characters--a Jeffrey Dahmer-type murderer of teenage boys, the members of a semi-pro rock band called Horror Hospital--recur intermittently, but situations are repeated incessantly. With its reduction of gay life to an endless round of rough sex and drugs bracketed by violent death, Cooper's work is a tawdry throwback to a time before AIDS. He has an uncanny eye for the nasty metaphor: ``A boy's shaved head was just visible inside one end of a rolled-up carpet like the fruit of a Chapstick.'' Cooper's craftsmanship is undeniable, although he could be talking about himself when he has the narrator of ``Square One'' observe that ``the sharpest new writers tend to appropriate either the language or sheen of pornography.'' His is a profoundly disturbing book, as much for its detached tones and sense of ennui as for the acts it so graphically depicts. (Mar.)