Posts Tagged ‘dennis cooper’

God Jr

August 21, 2011

I think I should re-read God Jr. When I first read it, I was still mostly infatuated with Dennis Cooper for the more obvious reasons his writing gets praised- the salacious stuff- and I was like “this is the stupidest shit I’ve ever read,” because I had been reading his straightforward sentences as simple conveyances for the violent shit he was writing about, and God Jr doesn’t really have any gay or violent shit in it, except for the one central death (if I recall correctly). But I’ve sat with his work for a while now and my appreciation of it has matured into more of a sense of excitement about the way he portrays the embodiment of shell-shocked and vapid as an honestly legitimate reaction to violent marginalization and/or poisonous culture. I mean, I’m still stoked to read him explore predatory/coercive relationships and disfigurement as erotic, but it’s like… come for the predatory/coercive relationships and violent murder as erotic, stay for the portrayal of shell-shocked and vapid as legitimate response to poisonous culture.

Sucks that my copy either got left somewhere, sold, or packed into the fencing bag I left at the home of the parents of somebody I think I had a friend breakup with. Le sigh/le shrug.

Wide Eyed

August 21, 2011

I was really into this but here’s the thing, don’t make the same mistake I did: don’t read this short story collection all in one day, because there is a lot of sugar in it. It’s like eating a quart of ice cream in one sitting or something. I mean the metaphor doesn’t really work because the ice cream would have to have something grim or brutal in it, not as the primary ingredient but definitely as one of the primary ingredients- like, chocolate, hemlock and peanut butter, or vanilla strawberry glass shards. Which makes it sound like an Urban Decay ad in Spin from ten years ago or something, but the way these stories are laid out, it both seems totally appropriate that she also wrote a book called A Unicorn is Born that’s just about unicorn culture and birth and also appropriate that this book was published under Dennis Cooper’s Little House on the Bowery imprint of Akashic.

(being published by an imprint of Akashic is unimpeachably cool btw)

Actually having Dennis Cooper was a useful reference point- the only other thing I’d read by Ms Dalton was Sweet Tomb, one of those (also unimpeachably cool) square little Madras Press books, the cover of which looked like it involved a lot of tracings of pictures of women in slutty halloween witch costumes. Which actually also is a pretty good metaphor for what her writing is like… but anyway Cooper’s a good reference point for the way that she is just talking, in the vernacular, and her boyfriend Matt shows up a few times, and most of these stories are not narratively shaped like- I dunno- the stories of some classic short story writer who works within litfic genre constraints. I can’t think of anybody. Some character on a sitcom whose occupation is “writer.” ANYWAY what I am trying to say is that it seems like Dalton just kind of turns her obsessions over and over in her mouth and on the page the same way Cooper does, except her obsessions are like unicorns and witchy magic and animals instead of dazed gay teenagers and consensual mutilation. I’m into it I just got excited and overdosed on it. I did order a copy of A Unicorn is Born though so I will keep you posted.

[at powells]

Gender Born, Gender Made

May 4, 2011

So today in what seems maybe to have been an act of divine providence, this book “Gender Born, Gender Made,” by a psychologist named Diane Ehrensaft fell into my lap. I don’t know why it’s in my store, a week before it comes out, just a single copy- maybe Chris ordered it, I don’t know- but I snatched it up and started reading it on my lunch break and had to stop reading it because I was starting to cry.

It’s a book about gender variant- a phrase she wants to replace with “gender creative,” which sounds kind of hippie but also you can’t argue with the way “gender variant” centers cisnormative genders/gender performances- kids, and how to be a child therapist for them without being a fucking J Mike or Ken Zucker. In the first chapter, she’s already talked about how aversion therapy doesn’t work, and how samples are skewed and controls don’t exist in the experiments Zucker & co cite, and just about how bad the science is there- and, most importantly, how if you’re doing counseling, you’re supposed to do no fucking harm, and it’s just blatantly, infuriatingly clear how much harm reparative/aversion therapy does, if you look at it from any perspective other than ‘transsexuality is unacceptable.’

I’ve always hoped that this stuff was out there in the legitimate psychological literature, but in the context of the prevalence of the ‘make your kid cry until they stop being such fuckin queers’ school of psychology, I haven’t seen it anywhere. And I’ve been in the process of figuring out how to go to school to shout down that busted-up school of psychology, figuring that I was going to have to burn down my own path to even start talking about how much harm this kind of praxis does, so seeing this in print just feels like breathing after not being able to breathe. Or some better metaphor.

So anyway it certainly might let me down and break my heart- desert me- but I just want to tell you how much I hope it doesn’t. And you know how pessimistic I am about books that aren’t written by Kathy Acker or Dennis Cooper or maybe Angela Carter- it’s hard for me to be optimistic.

Also I’m supposed to be reading this advance copy of Embassytown that Cat gave me, to review for The Green Man Review– which I’m super into, actually. It’s nice to read anti-colonial science fiction about semiotics. But I am going to be on buses for like ten hours tomorrow, and I feel like I’m gonna have to shirk my responsibility to Cat and China to read this book about trans kids (which is about other things than trans kids, obvs) first.

It’s the hard knock life, etc

Nan Goldin

March 20, 2011

So I went to New York last weekend. I went to see Godspeed You Black Emperor last Monday (M wrote about it here) but I hung out in New York Saturday night, Sunday and then early Tuesday, too.

On the bus ride in I mostly read Everything Matters by Ron Currie Jr, a book we’ll be discussing at the Total Bummer Book Club at my bookstore in April, which was pretty great actually. I like him although I think that despite the obvious “being an alcoholic is bad” current in that novel there’s also kind of a current of like strong tough don’t think about it I don’t need to work on my shit, which might just be a Maine thing. I haven’t been here that long. I mean, I don’t think it wrecks the book or makes the author a jerk or anything, it just like… actually it’s such a minor thing I don’t know why I’m talking about it instead of all the things that he did well in this book, like how effectively he crammed in so many ups and downs without making them drag on or blow by, and how the second-person sections didn’t get explained and didn’t need to but also didn’t get cloying, and how, y’know, unrelentingly bleak it was, which is something I’m always happy to endorse.

So anyway yeah I went to the Strand, where I used to work, as soon as I’d gotten into the city, eaten a slice of pizza, dropped some zines off at Bluestockings, picked up a 22 oz Corona and drunk it at that Indian Restaurant on the top left at 1st and 6th in Manhattan, with all the chili lights and mirrors, where it’s somebody’s birthday every twenty minutes so you always hear the Bollywood birthday song. I don’t think I bought anything the first time I went to the Strand, I just looked around for Kathy Acker books (someone clearly had beaten me to them, or else she is even further out of fashion than I’d grown used to; she is either very cool or not at all cool right now, which reinforces the fact that I am a hipster dickbag) and left ’cause my backpack was really heavy. I woke up the next morning, gorged myself at Kate’s on Avenue B, then walked back to the Strand and got the Dennis Cooper book I talked about in my last post and a tiny square book of Nan Goldin’s photographs by Guido Costa, boringly titled Nan Goldin.

It was great though! I mean, kind of great. Actually I read the whole thing on the bus ride home and was into it but now that I’m thinking about it it wasn’t what I wanted it to be. I mean, what I like about Nan Goldin is mostly that her pictures preserve a history of trans women that never really sees much light- that’s occluded by history, if you want to be a herb about it- and because she was a cis woman with access to a means of production trans women generally haven’t (which is a simplification; it’s a point but it’s not the whole story) there are so many of her pictures (example) she’s taken that show, y ‘know, a history of my people that I haven’t been able to find anywhere else. So I guess what I wanted from this book was for Guido Costa to be like “this person in this picture’s name is this, and she lived here, and her life was like this, and she dated this person, ate this, hung out here, wrote this, read this, performed or didn’t perform,” y’know. So it couldn’t have been what I wanted it to be. It was still nice to learn more about Nan Goldin though.

Also there were first US editions of Barthes’ second book of mythologies and the Fashion System just sitting there in the philosophy section but I managed not to buy them because the thirty-five dollars or whatever they would have cost had to go toward a taco truck, vegan Asian fusion food on Bedford Avenue, vegan Dim Sum at the bottom of Mott Street, more pizza, some noodles in Chinatown while I waited for the bus, and food to eat on the bus. I WISH I HAD THEM THOUGH. Even though your possessions end up owning you maaaaaaan anyway then I went to vegan dim sum in Chinatown with Tom and Julie.

Ugly Man

March 20, 2011

I actually got kind of bored halfway through the third book of this series- it’s not in front of me so I’m just pretending it’s titled Angus Thongs etc- because it’s been years since I read the first couple and also there was a part where somebody touched Georgia’s boob without asking and I was like ‘okay, that’s not a big deal who cares EXCEPT I’m mostly reading this to get away from nonconsensual sexuality but there it is ANYWAY just for ONE SECOND could I read something where that isn’t what it’s about?’ So I read Dennis Cooper’s Ugly Man, which is mostly about dazed gay teenage boys fucking, killing and dismembering each other, over and over and over, sometimes with the help of older men.

I don’t know why that seemed less messed up than a fourteen year old boy brushing a fourteen-year-old girl’s boob, maybe accidentally, and actually there were times in this book that I actually felt like ‘ugh, I wish I weren’t reading this,’ the strange thing about which might be that I’ve never had that reaction to Dennis Cooper before. I mean, this is all he writes about, it’s variations on a theme of “dazed teenage boys fuck and dismember each other.” One I don’t know why that never gets old and two I don’t know why it’s never seems really fucked up but three I think it might have something to do with the fact that when it’s all men/male people doing it to each other the sexist aspect to it is removed- or even maybe inverted, like turned in on itself, so it’s actually the gazer (or whatev) gazing into more of a mirror than at a subject being objectified, y’know? Like, what happens to the oppressiveness of the male gaze when there are no women around? It’s a worthwhile question that I don’t have any answer/solutions about, but I’ve been thinking about it. Like maybe that’s why I feel not-guilty about participating in/being an accomplice to Dennis Cooper’s ongoing obsession with this stuff. Y’know?

This also marked the first time that one of those Harper Collins PS sections at the end of a book wasn’t infuriating for me, too. Like the DVD extra bonus making of featurette analogue, y’know? The part where they’re like “what’s your favorite translation of A Season in Hell, Dennis?” and he’s like “hands down, it is Peschel’s,” and then I go to the Strand to see if they have that translation but they don’t. Also apparently there was an actual double murder/dismembering of a couple gay teenage boys that happened near the author’s house when he was younger and that’s what’s led to him obsessing about that scenario forever? Like it is a psychological pockmark instead of a punk rock affectation? Except the punk rock affectation is saying it out loud so much.

I was just reading my old blog two nights ago and it was actually pretty good. I should blog more. I just moved this blog- Keep Your Bridges Burning- from blogger to wordpress- because blogger felt kind of like babytown, mostly because I’ve had a bunch of old blogs there and they were all baby ideas (“Why don’t I do a news blog!”). Maybe I will stick with this one here.

Oh in case I haven’t told you this before Dennis Cooper and Kathy Acker are pretty much my favorite favorites.

Academonia

May 30, 2010

After hearing her name a million times, I finally got ahold of one of Dodie Bellamy’s books! It felt like… um, not like coming home, because that’s a pretty boring way to put something. But it made sense to me; the whole thing is a meditation on the discomfort/awkwardness that comes from the necessity of writing experimental- or “experimental”- fiction. It makes sense that she’s the lady one who hangs out with Dennis Cooper and Kevin Killian and those folks. I’m trying to think of a way to say “she does kind of a lady version of what they do” that doesn’t sound kind of, like, grounded on bullshit assumptions of what a “lady version” of something would be, but she does spend time interrogating exactly that subject- what it’s like to be the mostly straight woman who grew up as a writer among queer men writing in a style they came up with. Ish. Anyway, she is funny and bad ass and smart and I bought a ton of her other books from Small Press Distribution when I finished this one. W000t.

(this review is from my old goodreads account.)