Dennis Cooper : biography
Dennis Cooper (born 1953) is an American novelist, poet, critic, editor and performance artist.
George Miles cycle
In the spring of 2000 Cooper published Period, the last of a series of five novels known as the George Miles cycle (ISBNs refer to the Grove Press paperback editions):
- Closer (1989), ISBN 0-8021-3212-X
- Frisk (1991), ISBN 0-8021-3289-8
- Try (1994), ISBN 0-8021-3338-X
- Guide (1997), ISBN 0-8021-3580-3
- Period (2000), ISBN 0-8021-3783-0
"… [I]n the ninth grade Cooper met his beloved friend George Miles. Miles had deep psychological problems and Cooper took him under his wing. Years later, when Cooper was 30, he had a brief love affair with the 27-year-old Miles. The cycle of books … came later, and were an attempt by Cooper to get to the bottom of both his fascination with sex and violence and his feelings for Miles." — 3:AM magazine, November 2001, "American Psycho: An Interview With Dennis Cooper" by Stephen Lucas.
"George in Closer, whose room is full of Disney figures, himself becomes the toy of two forty-year-old men obsessed with the beauty of pain and suffering. In Frisk, an ex-friend is writing Julian letters: reports or fantasies of sex and violence. The description of the sexual murdering of young men is a melange of blood and slippery internal organs, too unappetizing to quote. The letters are being sent from a Holland windmill, in its isolation an ideal place for exploring the raw reality of sex, violence and death." — VPRO Television; article in Dutch.
Cooper grew up the son of a wealthy businessman in Arcadia, California. His first forays into literature came early, focusing on imitations of Rimbaud, Verlaine, de Sade, and Baudelaire. As he began his teenage years, he wrote poetry and stories on scandalous and often extreme subjects. At the age of fifteen, he began to plan an ambitious novel cycle. This project, which took Cooper nearly twenty years to realize, would later become known as The George Miles Cycle. Cooper was an outsider and the leader of a group of poets, punks, stoners, and writers. After high school he attended Pasadena City College and, later, Pitzer College, where he had a poetry teacher who was to inspire him to pursue his writing outside of institutions of higher learning.
In 1976 Cooper went to England to become involved in the nascent punk scene. In the same year he began Little Caesar Magazine which included among other things an issue on and dedicated to Rimbaud. In 1978 with the success of the magazine, Cooper was able to found Little Caesar Press which featured the work of, among others, Brad Gooch, Amy Gerstler, Elaine Equi, Tim Dlugos, Joe Brainard, and Eileen Myles.
In 1979, Cooper published his first book of poetry, Idols, and became the director of programming at an alternative poetry space, Beyond Baroque, in Venice, California. He held that position for three years. Cooper's second book of poetry, Tenderness of the Wolves, published in 1982, was nominated for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. In 1983, Cooper moved to New York City where he published his first book of fiction, a novella titled Safe, and began writing the cycle of five interconnected novels he had been planning since his mid-teens. In 1985 he moved to Amsterdam where he finished writing the first novel in the George Miles Cycle, Closer which later won the first Ferro-Grumley Award for gay literature.
While in Amsterdam he also wrote articles for different American magazines including Art in America, The Advocate, the Village Voice and others. He returned to New York in 1987 and began writing articles and reviews for Artforum, eventually becoming a contributing editor of the magazine. He began working on his next novel, Frisk. In the next few years Cooper worked on several different art and performance projects including co-curating an exhibit at LACE with Richard Hawkins entitled AGAINST NATURE: A Group Show of Work by Homosexual Men.
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