Monday, January 5, 2009


by Dennis Cooper
Grove Press 1993

I found this deeply disturbing and I didn't bother finishing it. Narratives about sociopaths are nothing new - think American Psycho, Natural Born Killers etc - but what makes this one different is that there is no satire. It's also just about the most graphic thing you will ever read. The victims are presented as insentient toys, beautiful and moronic. The other characters complicitly accept the murders and do nothing to stop them. Add it all together and you have something that glamorizes torture and murder.

I am against censorship in general but I can't help thinking that in the wrong hands a genuine killer would consider this an aesthetic justification of his actions. I have seen some snuff-type videos - mostly executions and suicides but never actual tortures or murders. A friend of mine said that he did once - but that he was troubled ever since and that he wanted to bring justice and revenge to the killers. I find splatter movies like the Texas Chainsaw Massacre tolerable because they are so schlocky - when something exceptionally well written like this goes into the same territory I find it completely different. The idea that some people are superior to others is blatantly wrong. Maybe this was a cathartic novel, but if so it shouldn't have been distributed. If I ran a bookshop I would not be inclined to stock it.

Cooper is a great writer and this appears to be the most extreme of his novels, so maybe I'll come across another one some day which I find more enjoyable. The early scenes in Frisk featuring the queer counterculture were brilliant so hopefully the other novels are more in this vein.

No comments:

Post a Comment