CLOSER by Dennis Cooper


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A low-down novel from poet Cooper (Safe, 1985; not reviewed) that makes Bret Easton Ellis' Less than Zero read like Dick and Jane: centered on a group of male students--and told in a collection of voices--it's part gallows humor, part pornographic excess, part mad-slasher suspense--and definitely not for the squeamish. Everyone is drawn to George, who lives with his father and cancer-ridden mother. Passive, stoned, he lets everyone project onto him whatever's on their affectless minds. Very confused, inarticulate, George is a kind of Rorschach of the times. John, his punk lover, is an artist who thinks it's "fun to deface"; he and George take a punk to a "haunted house," where John whips the punk with a bicycle chain (the punk: "Fuck me up. . .I really fucking love violence") while George gets jealous. Then John abandons George, and David, who thinks he's famous for being gorgeous, takes up with George. When Mr. McGough, the creative-writing teacher, leaves a high-school dance with John instead of George, George goes home With Philippe, an older man in a Porsche. Alex, an aficionado of porn, later watches and writes about their perverse rituals. Philippe introduces George to Tom, an older man who likes vomit and hard sex. George's mother dies and George goes to Tom, who shoots him up with Novocain and cuts his buttocks apart, but doesn't kill him--the usual fate for Tom's lovers. Later Tom calls Philippe to talk: "He'd just killed someone new. They discussed that. . ." George recovers and sees Steve, who has turned his parents' four-car garage into a nightclub. Steve, who cares for George, calls Tom, who "could do what he wanted but not in my world," or "I'd call the cops." Feeling, if not love, survives. A frightening vision of urban decay and anarchy in a punk/gay subculture: The Road Warrior meets Holden Caulfield.

ISBN: 8021-1093-2
Publisher: Grove
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