cover image Period


Dennis Cooper / Author Grove/Atlantic $21 (144p) ISBN 978-0-80

Cooper's fans will not be surprised, but the uninitiated may balk at his new novel's macabre world of disaffected young men engaging in Satanic sacrifice, gang rape, cutting-edge pornography and nonchalant mutilation and murder. Undaunted readers will find a subversive brilliance and considerable wit behind this darkly comic ride through the looking glass of marginal youth culture. Cooper (Closer; Frisk; Try; Guide) imbues the fifth and final novel in his ""Sex and Death"" series with a mythic tone, centering the action in a remote, nondescript town and a mysterious house, all black on the inside except for a large mirror. Events take place on both sides of the mirror in two (or more) equally dangerous worlds that reflect and affect one another. But that is only the beginning of the mirror imagery. The main characters are a string of young men who eerily resemble each other, including voyeurs Leon and Nate, pothead Dagger, and Nate's boyfriend Bob, who's obsessed with dead-ex George. And there is a novel called Period within this novel, which a Satanic band called the Omen have popularized among their Goth followers. A cabal of pornographic Webmasters and their online audience likewise celebrate the inner novel, which also features a cast of interchangeable young men, a nondescript town and its mysterious house. As the two narratives, the characters and locations mirror each other, it eventually becomes clear that reality is only a series of endless reflections. Cooper plumbs themes of obsession, love, identity, authorial paradox and communication breakdown with virtuosic narrative technique. And he succeeds in wringing insight and even humor from abhorrent visions of sadism and blackness. (Mar.)