978-0-8021-3580-3 / 9780802135803

Guide (Cooper, Dennis)


Publisher:Grove Press



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About the book:

Guide is Dennis Cooper's fourth volume in an ambitious five novel cycle (which has also included Frisk, Wrong, Closer and Try). His previous novels have all attempted to articulate the difficulty that the (modern)writer has in constructing in language a narrative that elucidates language's own ever present tension between disclosure and evasion.

Guide follows, in its hip, sassy, sexy way, this same theme. The textual problematic is played out in an arena where a self-conscious authorial voice, with all the correct pop-cultural references, narrates an often brutal and very explicit homo-erotic story of sex, drugs and rock 'n'roll. Whilst an LSD-induced lucidity, or perhaps simply the ingenuousness of youth, is nostalgically invoked, the ever present search for a more visceral sexual experience that could throw the narrator back into a more authentic sense of being continues throughout. The novel is very episodic with only the flimsiest of "stories": Dennis thinking of past sexual experiences, past valid experiences, fantasising along with his "friends" of future possible connections. They dream of sexually abusing the lead singer of a Britpop band; they watch more pornography; the magnitude of their indolence, and disappointment, continues in direct proportion to their drug-taking.

Cooper portrays a snuff-porn lifestyle saturated with ennui and pain but somehow gilded with hope. Like Generation X's Douglas Coupland Cooper is not nearly as world-weary as he seems. There is a humanity here and it is this humanity, this sense of care, coupled with the quality of the writing, that rescues the novel from its potential nihilism. Guide maps a certain set of existential crises and suggests that our responses, if they are to rescue us, must be embedded in our desires. --Mark Thwaite

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