I timed my arrival in Los Angeles to catch Dennis Cooper's book release events for his new short story collection, Ugly Man (HarperPerennial) and I have nothing but admiration for this book and for this uncompromising author who finally, once again, has been picked up by a larger American publishing house. I don't know what the hell took so long, but you know, Cooper was once on Grove which was so super cool too. Alas, it is not the publisher that matters. I'm still reading Ugly Man, and I wouldn't presume to review it full-on, but it does open on some Cooper-esque, squeamish notes. "Jerk," re-printed here from the ArtSpace book Cooper made with Nayland Blake, stars some killers, as does the second piece in Ugly Man, voilá: "Ugly Man." The fake-wet, rubbery pickle on Ugly Man's cover suits the book well. As difficult as it is to conceive of how one could inject extreme violence with moments of twisted humor and eroticism, that is Cooper's genius. I mean, this book is not a slapstick crack-up. But there are sexy smirks on character's faces throughout, and they're contagious. Maybe Ugly Man is our new Everyman. I kind of hope so, but then again, I tell myself, be careful what you wish for. Killers on the loose wouldn't be cool, but I do cherish the idea of the outlaw. At least in literature.
PS Dennis Cooper has been running a blog for years now, and I'd like to link to it here because it's definitely not a secret anymore---the address is officially printed on the back cover of his book! It's an active site sometimes curated by Cooper and sometimes by guests. Writing workshops, on-line exhibitions, tributes to great artists/authors/musicians, and most importantly UPDATES! On the whereabouts of Cooper's events