The Devils of Our Better Nature: On Dennis Cooper and His New Film

Daniel Felsenthal in the Los Angeles Review of Books:

I READ DENNIS COOPER for the first time when I was a 23-year-old student in an MFA program. No professor assigned him to me. Cooper’s language is blunt, often sounding as though spoken through a veil of intoxicants, and his tales of insecure gay teenagers and the men who castrate, murder, disembowel, and cannibalize them would have been a hard pitch to those who had come to grad school to learn how to sell their manuscripts. The only other openly gay student in my writing cohort, K., recommended the George Miles Cycle (1989–2000) and God Jr. (2005), his voice catching as we talked. He was afraid to read The Sluts (2004), because he had recently been through a breakup and he was concerned that a narrative about a group of middle-aged men who become obsessed with a prostitute named Brad, using internet chat rooms to describe his torture and death, might mar his sense of the possibilities of single life as a sexually active gay person.

I was in a strange position myself at this point in the “program” (as we called it) — a name that made earning a master’s of Fine Arts sound like completing the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. Reeling from my own failed relationship, with all the unwanted things it had taught me about my psychology, I balanced my graduate studies with an ambitious gay bachelorhood that I managed to sustain for no more than a year.

More here.