Dennis Cooper's God Jr. is about a man who takes solace in his dead son's video game. His latest, The Sluts, tells the story of a young male escort's possible murder via Web chat.
The Sluts gets pretty intense. How true to life are the screen transcripts?
I tried to be as true to that kind of language and that kind of rhetoric as possible. One site I got particularly fascinated with while researching—the escorts became these sort of superstars for a few months, with everybody chatting about them. There was obvious lying and fake reviews and things like that. But no story ever went quite as far as the one I made up.
Do you read conventional thrillers and horror?
It's very difficult for me to read genre stuff, other than the obvious, like Philip K. Dick or early Clive Barker. I'm a real tight-ass about prose, and I get really irritated. What I do read are true crime books—my favorite is called Killing for Company, about serial killer Dennis Nealson. There's another one called Rites of Burial, about a serial killer in Kansas. I've read a bunch of them, especially early on when I was doing research for my work. Usually books about men who kill boys.
What made you want to write about the more-or-less conventional family in God Jr.?
When I finished that cycle [Closer, Frisk, Try, Guide and Period], I just thought I should really challenge myself. People over the years have always been, like, "You'd get all of this respect if you wrote about things that weren't so terrible" and blah blah blah, and all of these things were in my head. And I thought, okay, I should try it. I just happened on this idea about the video game, and the family part sort of fell out of that. It ended up being a very strange book. Ideally, I'd like to change my work completely, but I have a feeling that it's not going to happen.
And, of course, The Sluts was published four months later...[Laughs]
. Yeah. It actually got finished like two years ago and published in a small-press limited edition a few months before God Jr.
How did Carroll & Graf end up with God Jr.?
They just asked for it. I was thrilled. [Carroll & Graf editor] Don Weise is trying to revive the whole gay literature thing that was going on in the 1980s, and trying to bring in interesting writing that happens to be gay, and I got lucky and got swept into that.