UGLY MAN by Dennis Cooper

UGLY MAN

Stories

KIRKUS REVIEW

More sexually based offenses from the master, so to speak, of gay sadomasochistic overkill (The Weaklings, 2008, etc.).

In this cojone-squeezing collection of 18 mostly fragmentary stories, Cooper considers beautiful young male flesh, as exploited by admirers bent on discovering how it responds to torture, murder and mutilation (though not necessarily in that order). In “Jerk,” a creepy performance artist dissects his own “experiences as a drug-addicted, psychotic teen murderer”; elsewhere, a boy who has dispatched his parents and younger brother analyzes his actions and thoughts in conversation with the sympathetic sadist who’s about to kill him (“The Hostage Drama”); a male groupie praises the democratic carnal energies of rock and punk celebrities (“One Night in 1979…”); and in “The Ash Gray Proclam-ation,” Cooper’s feral adolescent death-desirers connect gay rape and murder with al-Qaeda and bin Laden, citing “the jihad that homoeroticism has unleashed on the cute.” One of the more intriguing pieces is “Oliver Twink,” which comes in the form of an impassioned dialogue between a teen junkie (Chris) and his compassionate “uncle” (iTodd). There’s genuine scary power in the story’s skillfully paced revelation of a dangerous unequal relationship. But, as usual, Cooper takes it way, way over the top. When his stories invite your empathy, he works like a Trojan (a painfully ribbed one, surely) to celebrate his soulless boy-toys’ apocalyptic gamesmanship.

Some people call Cooper a maverick moralist and an innovative stylist. Well, some people will swallow almost anything.

Pub Date: June 1st, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-06-171544-0
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Perennial/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 2009




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