I’m using this page to compile material from various sources related to Dennis Cooper’s new novel THE MARBLED SWARM.
As you scroll down the page, you will find
** excerpts from recent interviews,
** links to reviews,
** links to posts related to the novel on DC’s blog,
** responses by DC to individual blog commenters (in reposting these here I am necessarily taking them out of their original context),
** and, at the bottom, links to general resources on DC and his work.
If you want to reach DC with your own question or whatever, the best way is to leave a comment on his most recent blog post. He’ll reply in the p.s. section at the bottom of the next day’s post.
How have the years in France had an impact on your fiction?
Being here while not being able to speak French well certainly had a big effect. I hear French spoken all the time, everywhere I go, and I mostly have to imagine what people are saying. That inspired me to build an imaginary language that sounded a certain way. The sound of French really influenced The Marbled Swarm, and there’s a simulacrum of my experience of living in a country where I don’t understand what’s going on around me very well.
The Marbled Swarm reads differently than your other novels. It’s not written in the spare style you’ve used elsewhere. The writing here is lush.
My very first novella, Safe, was a failed attempt to do something close to what I’m doing in The Marbled Swarm. I just didn’t have the abilities or experience to figure it out at that time. With earlier novels, the way I was able to get the effect I wanted was to thin my voice out and break the novels up into interlocking fragments and segments. I found that I could get the effect by making the experience of reading my novels a bumpy, highly structured ride that exposed the fiction’s layers and substructures in a kind of peekaboo way.
With The Marbled Swarm, I was trying to write a novel the way a sound technician mixes a song or piece of music into its final form. I’ve been studying recorded music and trying to transpose its principles into my fiction going all the way back to my first novel, Closer, where one thing I did was try to simulate the sonic effect of the Jesus and Mary Chain’s Psychocandy album with my prose. In The Marbled Swarm I found a voice that let me do that. I thought about each element of the novel, whether it was a narrative thread or character or reference point or an ongoing motif or tone or rhythm. The idea was that they would always be there, but they would be emphasized or de-mephasized at different pints, mixed into the foreground, middle ground, or background, being moved around constantly so the reader’s attention would be directed all over the place. My idea was that it would give the writing a three-dimensional quality, as the reader is carried along by the musical surface of the novel, but he or she would also be chasing different story lines and recurring ideas as they waver and camper about and hide inside the prose.
You’ve called the titular language of The Marbled Swarm a nod to your inability to understand people when you first moved to France. Can you expand on that?
Dennis Cooper: I really don’t speak much French, but my comprehension of French has gotten a lot better. But basically, I live there and I don't understand what people are saying all the time. You kind of listen to the sound of it and you have to guess what’s going on. You create a type of fantasy world about what living in France is like. I mean, I’m a big Francophile, and my friends are always telling me that I totally romanticize the French, because I think that they’re saying things that Rimbaud would say, but they’re just talking about the usual shit.
So I got interested in that idea of half understanding things; getting the basic point but not getting any of the details. And I thought it would be really interesting to write a novel where a character is saying something that has a real music and rhythm to it, but you don't really understand what he’s saying. Or maybe he’s telling you that you don't understand what he’s saying–I have all these secrets, and you should be paying more attention because I’m playing this game with you. It kind of inspired the swarm in that sense.
At one point in the book, the narrator explains the genesis of the linguistic affectation: “To originate the marbled swarm, [my father] traveled continents, retained selective habits from denominated countries’ languages, then played with his infected voice for years. He’d blended half the world’s linguistic greatest hits into the sinews of his French, adding octaves, subtracting clauses, until he could enunciate a fluent composition.” So the swarm is spoken in French, even though the novel was written by you in English. How did you settle upon the style for your “translated” swarm? Did you lay out a set of grammatical rules for yourself?
DC: Yeah. Before I start a novel–and it takes me a long time–I create many rules and create drafts and all these structural things. And that book particularly, because it’s so complicated, I had to really work out this system. Because I wanted there to be this possibly false story with multiple levels. The language has secret tunnels in it. It was very, very complicated to do. And I thought it would be funny to write it in English, because that would be the son’s problem, because he would prioritize English. I wanted to have all these layers of confusion and facades and different things. I had to do a lot of experimenting to figure out how to do it.
You currently still live in France, correct?
DC: I live there like 90% of the time, but I still have my place in LA. My boyfriend’s Russian and he can't get a US visa, that’s why I went over there. One of these days they will grant him a visa and we will probably move back, but for now I spend most of my time in France.
So you moved to France for love, despite not being able to understand French, which is considered the language of love.
DC: [laughs] That's right.
Parts of Swarm reminded me of Period, what with its temporal trickery and Lynchian use of doppelgangers. Like that novel, there is plenty in Swarm that is open to interpretation. Is Swarm an actual puzzle to be solved, like its narrator implies? Do you yourself know the solution?
DC: Yes, it is a puzzle and it can be solved, and there is something in there waiting for those who do... but you don’t have to. I made it so that it can be solved to various degrees. You don’t have to solve it at all, but if you want you could start taking it apart. There’s many, many, many clues–everything there is kind of a clue. You can believe the narrator when he says, I have an emotional problem and I’ve been lying to you–if you want. But it is solvable. I just don’t know if anybody will ever do it, because it’s pretty difficult. But if somebody really wanted to get into it and was really excited about the idea of solving it–you could.
Oh man. I’m just gonna have to wait for somebody smarter to upload the answer to the internet.
DC: [laughs] I don’t know if anyone’s ever gonna be able to do it. We’ll see.
If you don’t think anyone will be able to solve it, would you ever consider revealing the solution yourself?
DC: I hope not.
DC: [laughs] That’s not the point. It doesn’t really matter. It means what you want it to mean, that’s the whole point, right? You get to dig around in it. What it means to me... I have a structuring principle and basic idea going on there, but you don’t have to know that to understand it completely.
Except that it’s maddening for people who really wanna know and like to solve things.
DC: But that’s the fun of it. I hope. I hope that people will feel that way about it. I love the idea of there being some kind of cult of people trying to solve The Marbled Swarm.
Solving the Puzzle of Sex and Violence With Dennis Cooper
Interview by Joshua Chaplinsky (LitReactor)
With the new one… It all kind of comes out of Pierre Clementi. That’s what kind of started it, so I guess I used him as a muse or something. I am really interested in his work and in him. I wanted to use him, but I didn’t want to have him be a character. I just constructed this character that was sort of like my characters but who would be the son of Pierre Clementi and had that [legacy] handed down.
I don’t really think about characters so much, I just think about voice, so I get this voice and I start working with the voice and the voice makes the character. I kind of figured out the character as I was working on it, it’s not like I went in saying, “I want to have this snobby cute boy who wants to be a cannibal”… it was just I had the voice and found the right person who would fit the voice.
It’s funny with the voice. I mean, Sade has obviously been an influence on your work, tracing back to the beginning, it seems, but this is your first Sadean work with regards to language, where language spirals out on itself and becomes almost vertiginous, which is a real departure from the way you were originally constructing your prose. Was it your goal, at first, to sit down and write a Sadean book?
No, not at all. I was aware that that was going to happen because I was going to make everything French and everything set in France, but with a few American references to throw the thing off a little bit. It wasn’t that I went back and I studied Sade’s prose, cause it’s got Sade in it but it’s also got a lot of ideas I took from film, really.
I was thinking a lot about Alain Resnais’ Providence and things like that, and Robbe-Grillet’s films. It has as much [Ronald] Firbank in it as it has Sade, so, no it wasn’t deliberate. People say that and I understand. I guess whatever residue of his influence is in there came out and, because I was working in this more florid kind of Baroque voice. It wasn’t conscious or anything.
Yeah, I mean it seems a tendency to knee-jerk to Sade, I guess when… well, with the subject matter, but I also pulled out 120 Days of Sodom to read through it and see the structure, if it was similar… and it is quite similar in the way Sade structures his sentences.
It could well be. It’s just that that wasn’t something I studied. 120 Days of Sodom is so in my system that it wouldn’t surprise me.
But it also reads as this kind of hilarious pastiche of Frenchness, particularly because it still feels like a distinctly LA Dennis Cooper perspective, but looking through the eyes of this French billionaire.
Well, that’s good. I was kind of hoping it would be like that. [laughs]
Did you include a lot of the hip touch-stones like Clementi, I mean, it sounds like you really love Clementi, but Isabelle Adjani also stood out for me as a reference point.
[laughs] Yeah, I wanted to have a lot of French reference points and those were just based on… when you live here, you don’t actually see Isabelle Adjani that much at the moment, but there was a period when she was making this comeback over here and you were seeing her a lot and she made this film which was her “comeback film” and she was on television a lot. And she’s just so incredibly plastic surgeried and it was so disturbing in a certain way that I just wanted to work with that.
I also like the idea of these kids who would be the sons of Pierre Clementi and Isabelle Adjani. There was something about that combination that I really liked. I don’t think they ever worked together, but those references are just references I pick up from being over here.
It is really hilarious to have one illegitimate child with the mother be Clementi’s and the father’s be with Adjani. It’s a funny construct.
I say in the book, they look a lot like their parents, so it’s kind of like watching the young Pierre Clementi and the young Isabelle Adjani, do whatever they want… I guess they don’t really have sex so much, but… [laughs] they do something together.
It’s much, much worse than that.
Yes… I guess so.
You also chose to represent, sort of stereotypically, or realistically… Paris is such a luxury city and your protagonist is a billionaire who exploits all of the luxuries Paris offers. Does the scenery kind of rub off on you, or did you do a particular kind of research into that lifestyle in order to write the character?
I did a little bit of research but I have a lot of friends here who are like that and my boyfriend is really obsessed with fashion, so I hear all about that kind of stuff from him. And then I did some research, I know April 77 and all those [scenes] I am very aware of ‘cause there’s a lot of emos here and I’m interested in emos.
The most research was on culinary stuff, which I didn’t end up using. I was initially going to have all of these elaborate recipes for cooking human meat and I did a lot of research on French cuisine and French chefs, but no one ends up getting eaten in the book, so…
Ironically, for a book about cannibals.
I was thrilled to see that you included Pasolini’s [cannibal film starring Pierre Clementi] Porcile as a turning point for your young protagonist. Do you want to talk a little about your interest in Clementi. I mean, he’s a really interesting figure: whether it was the acting, his own cinema, the looks, or just a combination of everything that inspired you to build this book around him?
It was just a combination of things. Before I moved here, I always liked his acting and I thought he was really attractive and all that, but I didn’t know very much about him.
When I got here I had a friend who just completely worshiped him and he just was constantly telling me about him, and he lent me the DVD of Clementi’s films. I didn’t know that he’d actually directed films. They’re actually fantastic. They’re just incredible and that kind of cemented it. I started basically just researching him a lot and trying to talk to people who know him.
He’s very singular in France. He’s very much a cult figure here, as well; he’s not someone you hear about all the time. There are people who are really into him because he was such an idiosyncrat. He just never played the game. He would go on television on LSD all the time and do all these crazy things. He completely gave up mainstream film and just did all these bizarre films and stuff.
It’s the combination of his just being so heroic in his choices as an actor and as a director, and then his beauty and his performances, as well. He’s just a great figure, a real role model.
And also very visual. I think of him so baroquely in the film with Nico [La cicatrice intérieure] in the desert and Ari [Nico’s son] on the horse, or whatever.
Yeah yeah yeah… Well his films with Garrel are amazing and his own films were clearly influenced by Garrel but they’re much more psychedelic and crazy. Yeah, it’s the Garrel films where you really get… to me that’s the him that interests me the most, is that period and that kind of work that he was doing.
Dennis Cooper: Florid Mysteries by Bradford Nordeen (Lamda Literary)
You come from a background of poetry, but nevertheless the heightened language of The Marbled Swarm surprised me. I’m used to the rather straightforward, normalized Cooper grammar of your previous novels.
COOPER: I always fool around with my voice. I had made it really tight and plainspoken, like in Ugly Man and The Sluts, and I got tired of it. I decided I wanted to beef it up. I've always wanted to write this book, because I like layering. I wanted to try and find a voice where I could basically multitask, doing lots of things at once. So I just started fooling around. It took me a couple years to figure out the voice. And I finally found this one. It also has something to do with the fact that I was living in France and I wanted to write about that. I don't speak French very well. I kind of like being the eternal tourist, where I don't really understand everybody completely. And I thought that could be interesting too, something where you would have to guess at what's going on. You know what I mean? That's how I found this voice. It has its limits, too.
You manage real gymnastics with it in the book.
COOPER: Yeah, it could do a lot of tricks. But it can’t be too sincere, and it can’t be innocent. There are all these problems. It can be annoying. It’s one of the reasons why there’s this murder mystery at the beginning. It’s to try to make it move faster, so you get used to it. Because otherwise I thought people would read three pages and go, “I’m not going to read this. This is too irritating.” Because the guy is really irritating. So there was a lot of fooling around to figure out how to make him appealing.[...]
Organizing the new one was really, really hard. Maybe because the guy speaking is really clever and I’m not [laughs]. I was thinking a lot about music, about how music is mixed and how everything is happening at the same time; it just amounts to how the sound is lowered or raised. I was trying to get that with writing.
The main character is from extreme wealth, but he’s a bit different from a spoiled American. He is part Gothic blue-blood and part pop-culture elitist.
COOPER: I was trying to figure out what kind of character could be this total French dandyish pretty boy, you know, interested in fashion and also be interested in stupid American culture. He talks about Disney and Givenchy. His language is “marbled” because he's brought too much English into it. So he almost seems kind of British, which I didn’t intend. I think the mixture of my voice and the French voice into something that was kind of British was strange.[...]
How did you come up with the term “marbled swarm”?
COOPER: I don’t know, it just happened. You know, one of those weird things [laughs], two words that fit together in my head for some reason, I don’t know. I like it.
Speaking in Tongues with Dennis Cooper by Christopher Bollen (Interview magazine)
Was there anything in particular you were reading or watching that informed The Marbled Swarm? Its language is certainly different from the minimalist style of your earlier books.
Dennis Cooper: Well, I wanted to build a voice that was beholden to French literature, and particularly to its avant-garde wing, which had such a huge impact on my writing from the outset, but was kind of polluted with my own voice, which is very American, I think, and specifically Los Angeles-centric in its flatness and in its attempt to induce some kind of poetic trance within its limitations. But I wanted to be very careful not to end up imitating particular writers' styles, so I went out my way to avoid reading any French fiction or poetry while I was writing the novel in hopes of achieving a kind of prose that would have a French vibe rather than writing that would display obvious French earmarks. Instead, I studied a lot of French films, thinking they would be a source far enough away from fiction that nothing from them would get noticeably grafted on. The films that had the biggest impact were Alain Resnais' Providence, both because its meta-fictional central conceit had a relationship to mine and because it's a very French film that is crosshatched with an English text and actors, and Eric Rohmer's Perceval les Gallois, which is a film largely set outdoors but shot on a highly stylized indoor sets, because I was very interested in how strangely it used very artificial representations to play with viewers' ability to suspend belief.
The narrator is playing a predatory game in the book but he is also playing linguistic games on the reader. Was that kind of Nabokovian teasing in your original plan for the book or did that voice come in later drafts?
DC: That teasing was there from the very beginning, or, rather, the novel's style was constructed in order to enable that kind of linguistic game playing. What entered after I'd established the voice and was elaborated on in later drafts were the writing's props, as I think of them: the secret passage-laden chateaus, the tricky relationship between flat pictorial illustration/animations of people and places as employed by Japanese anime and manga and Disneyland and so forth versus the more fleshed out representations that fiction allows and basically demands, the actor versus "real" person motif, the play with surveillance, and so on.
How do you think your nomadism between Europe and the U.S. has altered your work? The Marbled Swarm has a haunted Europe sensibility, akin to a late-Buñuel film but there are also moments only an American would think of, like when the narrator confesses that he first mistook the chateaus of France as "Disney castles."
DC: Having lived the great majority of the time in France for the past six years had a giant impact, as did my not yet having learned to speak or understand the French language with much sophistication. On the one hand, I live here, and I have gotten a grasp on how the French view their own culture and country -- enough so that, say, when I saw Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris, I shared my French friends' amusement and feeling of being charmed by how extremely American and romantic his view of France is -- but, on the other hand, I haven't lost my long term, very American presumptions and reference points. The interesting thing for me is that I'm able to straddle the two perspectives and feel them both in a way that's both comfortable and conflictive, and it was precisely that in-between viewpoint that I wanted to represent in the novel's narrator, whose voice is fatally ruptured and flawed by its American influence.
A Literary Outlaw in Paris: Interview With Dennis Cooper by Brian Joseph Davis
A few critics have noted a fairy-tale influence in The Marbled Swarm. Is that something you were thinking about?
Only in the sense I was thinking a lot about Disney.
That’s probably not the most obvious Dennis Cooper influence that jumps to mind.
I’m interested in how Disney flattens fairy tales. Disneyland just fascinates me. I grew up in Disneyland, went there a few times a year every year, so it’s in my blood. I still think it’s the happiest place on earth.
But the stuff in the book comes more out of video games. Zelda is the kind of game I’ve always loved and played. It’s kind of like a modern fairy tale. I mean, it has animal protagonists [laughs].
Peepholes, and holes in general, are a recurring motif in this book. Tell me about your interest in voyeurism.
It’s weird. I’m not a voyeur actually. Well, I don’t know … does looking at porn make you a voyeur?
Yes, to some extent.
Because I look at a lot of porn. So maybe in that sense, yeah, I’m a voyeur. I’m interested in the relationship between the reader and the writer, and there’s a kind of power imbalance there that’s essentially voyeurism. In this book I explicitly go into that.
Speaking of Paris, you live there but don’t speak French that well. How has being estranged from the language around you influenced your own prose?
My friends over there speak English, but I’m always mediating what I say because I know they don’t speak the language very well. I think maybe I have a desire to be incredibly articulate. Like, over-articulate everything. And in this book, I wanted to do this thing where you have to wade through the bushes of language to figure out what people are trying to say. I don’t get to employ English in Paris as fully or unreservedly as I do here, so that made me want to really ratchet it up in the book.
There are characters in this book who fantasize about being run over by steamrollers.
Yeah, the Flatsos. It’s based on a real thing.
There are actual Flatsos?
There are enclaves of people who are obsessed with perverse forms of anime or manga. There’s one called guro, which is mentioned in the book, and then all these sub-groups that enjoy violent pornographic manga. There’s a group called squish junkies, and they incessantly draw pictures of themselves or movie stars being steamrolled. Or them having sex with pieces of paper, but the paper will be screaming. But no, there are no actual Flatsos. I mean, you can’t really make your face like a plate [laughs].
Dennis Cooper: There’s nothing numbing about a wild fetish by Jeremy Lybarger (Salon)
audio interview from December 4, 2011:
Episode 23–Dennis Cooper
on Other People with Brad Listi
Topics of conversation include: Los Angeles, Paris, F Troop, growth spurts, Rimbaud, Sade, vegetarianism, self-publishing, punk, anarchy, school, Ginsberg, Burroughs, England, Little Caesar, blogging, New York, Blake Butler, Art Forum, SPIN, the Pompidou, sex, violence, David Lynch, and porn writing as a creative exercise.
The “marbled swarm” in this book. It’s described as an “industriously garbled syntax,” a quote unquote — quote unquote appears quite a lot in the book — “exalted style of speaking” that the protagonist learns from his father and that becomes in his tongue “more of an atonal fussy bleat.” So you have this protagonist who is constantly alluding to hints of a deeper story throughout the text. But he’s also using language as an excuse for his behavior, his fantasies, and what not. He claims at one point, “My father used the marbled swarm to... well, I was going to say become a wealthy man, but to say he ruined would my life would be as accurate.” So the interesting thing about that is that the implication is that language — especially this stylized language — is really almost comparable to moral justification for why you had a shitty upbringing and the like. So I’m curious about this. Especially with most of the paragraphs beginning with “still comma.” There’s almost a comic formality about this reconciliation. I’m wondering how this patois developed and to what degree is this a response to reconciling confusion.
Cooper: Well, yeah, my books are in some fundamental way always about reconciling confusion. Because that’s of super interest to me. And language presents this idea that confusion can be corralled and all that stuff. And it can’t. And that tension does interest me. But how this happened? I don’t know. It took me a long time. I’m really slow and I do all these experiments. I test out things and try different forms and things. And it was a combination of living in France and not speaking French very well. And it was a very interesting thing to be on the Métro or whatever, and hearing people talk, and sort of understanding a little bit of what they’re saying. But not completely. And having to make it up or something and imagining. Because people always say that I romanticize French people enormously. Because I’m a huge Francophile. So when I’m on the subway with these people. And I imagine them talking about Rimbaud or something. And, of course, they’re talking about their laundry or whatever. So that begin to interest me. That I do that. So that started the idea of trying to create that in fiction. And I had usually written in a spare way. But I wanted to make it really, really dense so it would really multitask. Because I like things to be really layered and experimental. And so I tried to find this voice that was really, really dense and could do a whole bunch of stuff at once, and just fiddled around until that one came up. And then I had to figure out — because it’s really limited in what it can do. Its tone is really particular. And it’s really irritating. And so then it was just a matter of how fast will the pace be. Because will people not get too sick of this guy? And he can be kind of funny. But he can be really sincere, but only in a certain way.
Yeah. Did you actually end up speaking like this character during the course of your writing?
Cooper: No, no, no.
I mean, certainly I’m listening to you now and you don’t sound anything like that.
Cooper: No. I have to do readings now and it sounds so awful. (laughs)
Did you read any of it aloud to make sure that it could be plausible or anything like that?
Cooper: No. It all worked in my head like that.
Well, you mentioned this voice being irritating and slowing things down. And I’m wondering. Your books do have a tendency to irritate some people. Especially the mainstream. So how much irritation is enough in your fiction?
Cooper: It has to be really balanced out. I mean, I always feel like I have to do something formally or stylistically or structurally to justify that stuff. Because I’m not interested in — there’s this idea that — not just me, but other writers who do stuff like me are out to shock and all this. And it’s so not true. It’s completely the opposite. It’s like: How can you use really aggressive language like that and not be shocking? That’s my interest. Cause it’s such amazing language and it’s very emotional and it’s very pure. If you take that away, if you start treating it like a horror movie, or if you start doing this psychoanalytical kind of thing about what the motivations are behind that stuff, you really lose the powers. I wrote that power and I want to try and tame it or something. So I don’t know. It’s always tricky. With this book, there’s not as much violence in it. And the language like — so when you get to the part, there’s one part that’s really kind of intense. And I’m hoping that the language, you’re so involved with the language in a pleasurable — like it’s funny or something — that that’s kind of the barrier.
Well, you mentioned taming the language. Can your type of language ever be entirely tamed? Especially this moment that we’re alluding to about, I think, 120 pages in the book. You know, I found parts of that both funny and vaguely horrifying. But the funny to my mind outweighed the horrifying. Maybe I’m just warped.
Cooper: Well, yeah. You can only do so much. And I try different strategies at different times in different books and things. And this one, you get used to how he’s circumventing everything and subverting everything and doing everything. And he uses metaphor all the time. So that when he gets to the scene, it’s really totally metaphoric. When something violent happens, he’ll reference like an alligator or something. So that’s just my strategy. And it isn’t going to prevent people from being shocked. But with this book, you have to really be looking for it. Because it’s not as aggressive as in my other books.
That’s true. I’m wondering if you looked to any specific types of people to get the marbled swarm of this book. Or the “garbled marbled swarm.” Did you listen to a specific type of affluent wanker? Or what?
Cooper: It’s a little bit like the sound of French literature. Or certain kinds of French literature. I mean, there’s a little bit of that. Like Alain Robbe-Grillet and Sade and some of the writers who were important to me. And then my own voice. I mean, it’s basically me disguising my own voice. So a lot of it is just my usual stuff. I mean, the sentences are much more complicated than my usual sentences. But it’s all basically my voice. It was just more like trying to keep it sounding foreign and maybe be kind of French, but also having this weird American stuff thrown into it. And so it was kind of like a garbage language. I mean, the thing, it sounds British.
The Bat Segundo Show: Dennis Cooper (#425)
interview by Edward Champion
The Marbled Swarm is, like The Sluts, structured as a sort of mystery. You’ve said in other interviews that there is an underlying reality in the novel, that there is a solution. This seems to me like another key difference between your writing and the novels of your aesthetic descendants. Their books often deny the possibility of a solution. This is part and parcel with a general skepticism re: narrative. You clearly share some of that skepticism, especially in terms of the capacity of language to represent its object. And yet you still write novels with solutions. Why?
Interesting. I’m not sure what I said about my books having solutions. I certainly don’t think they have narrative-based solutions. I tend to think of my narratives as the novels’ floor plans or landscapes. Eventually you exit, but the novels themselves are like museums or spooky houses where things accumulate and associate and then stop appearing and hopefully resonate. Or in the more deliberate examples, maybe they’re somewhat like video game narratives in that they have a point, say to rescue Zelda, but the actual rescue has no resonance or meaning in and of itself. That outcome is just what keeps you playing. And maybe a difference is that I sometimes like creating language puzzles whose facades give the appearance of clear cut narratives.
I used a mystery set-up in The Sluts because that novel’s conceit is that its storyline is an on-the-fly improvisation/exquisite corpse co-created by the novel’s many characters who are unreliable presences and fellow residents of a particular grouping of sites and message boards. The question was what’s real and what’s fake in the novel, and I saw the introduction of a potentially solvable mystery plot into the fray as an intrusive fiction, evidence that a single hand and intention had entered and corrupted something that could really only be free-floating and messy due to its mass of authors. I saw the mystery plot as a way to help readers to locate the novel’s lies. If things fit too snugly into to its artificial construct, they were distortions if not outright fabrications.
In The Marbled Swarm, the mystery story is a game, a sleight of hand being performed by a narrator who is trying to distract the reader from something that is disorganized and incapable of being represented, or so he says. The solution there is to circumvent the mystery story’s trickery and charismatic promises, to see through the neat, thick, complicated order that the mystery premise imposes on the novel’s internal world and try to find out what if anything is hidden underneath it. I guess that’s a solution in a way, but it doesn’t hold out a clear answer.
My experience of The Marbled Swarm is that I spent the whole book with my attentions sort of agonizingly divided. On the one hand we’ve got this narrator who is so damn smug that you hate to think he’s getting something over on you, so you try to watch for clues and make sure he’s not pulling some kind of trick. On the other hand it seemed less relevant whether what he said was happening than that and how he chose to tell it so I tried to watch for the underlying emotional truth. Then I reached the ending and it was heart-wrenching and suddenly I felt this intense empathy and heartbreak and I really wanted to cry but it wasn’t going to happen and I hadn’t “solved” anything. It seemed like the division of my attention was important to the ultimate effect. How do you write one text that divides readers against themselves? I mean this more in a practical sense than anything.
Thanks. I’ve always made these kind of elaborate graphs before I start writing a novel. And when I’m developing a novel, I’ve pretty much always subdivided it into what I call systems, meaning that I think of its structures and narratives and characters and rhythm and poetics and so on as separate through-lines that I develop individually via notes and in my head. Then I try to meld everything together into something seamless when I start writing. I started doing that originally because I can’t keep track of things otherwise, and I’ve only written one novel (My Loose Thread) in a linear way as a challenge and experiment, and that was like pulling teeth, as they say. I never took a fiction writing class when I was younger, and I almost never read novels that are conventionally constructed, so I don’t have the basic fiction writing skills or instincts or knowledge to be able to write novels. I feel like an interloper. So, basically, I’ve been working that way for so long that I’ve gradually figured out ways to make the systems in my novels more flexible and interactive, and, in The Marbled Swarm, I decided to take that as far as I could.
You’ve mentioned Robbe-Grillet as a strong influence on The Marbled Swarm. I should say that I’ve only read his novel Jealousy, which was a real fever-dream of a weekend. So let’s assume for the sake of conversation that Jealousy is what you meant when you said “Robbe-Grillet”; if so, then were the novel’s lessons purely linguistic, or does your book owe something of its structure to Robbe-Grillet’s as well?
Robbe-Grillet’s influence on me has been significant for a long time, but The Marbled Swarm shows the clearest evidence of his impression, I guess. The thing is, I made a deliberate point of not reading any French literature while I wrote TMS because I wanted to get the quality of the French novels I loved in the writing without risking too strong a resemblance. So, I was using my memories of Robbe-Grillet’s work, which I hadn’t read in years, as a guide rather than using his work as a model firsthand. Still, TMS is something of an homage to Robbe-Grillet, although not in the way you might expect. The chateau that appears at the beginning of TMS and then mutates throughout the novel is based on the chateau where he actually lived. I’m friends with his wife Catherine Robbe-Grillet, and she invited me to visit for a day. So my description of the chateau is actually an exact replication of his real house, although I added the secret passages and so on to make it more Robbe-Grillet-ian because, in truth, it was pretty much just a modestly decorated, conventional home.
My fear arouses me: an interview with Dennis Cooper by Mike Meginnis (HTMLGiant)
audio interview from January 12, 2012:
Dennis Cooper: The Marbled Swarm
with Michael Silverblatt on Bookworm (WKCRW)
Dennis Cooper: The initial goal was to really compress my voice. I’d been working with a flatness and a plainness — I’d gotten interested in hiding all the machinations, making it sound normal, not having as many games in the prose itself, only subtle ones. It was just at a point where it was too comfortable, like in some of the Ugly Man stuff. I wanted to supercharge it. How could I take my voice and make it really compressed? It’s such a long process figuring that stuff out. I fooled around and experimented with different things, it’s always hard for me to remember how I do it. I’m discovering things I can and can’t do along the way; everything gets changed. I was thinking a lot about Rimbaud — I mean, people haven’t really mentioned that. When I was 15, like all kids that age when they read Rimbaud, I wanted to be Rimbaud. I wanted to be a visionary; I wanted to make stuff that was really charismatic and had all these mysteries where you would wonder what they meant. I think I wanted to finally live out my Rimbaud fantasy, but within the sphere of my skills and particular interests. When I started out I wrote this book Safe — my very first novella, which I don’t like anymore — I was trying to do this. It was very enjambed and everything was really intricate — and it was really bad. I thought maybe I knew how to write well enough now that I could finally figure out a way.
[During the writing] I was deliberately staying away from fiction, French fiction, and trying to work with my memory of it and how it had been homogenized into my voice already. When occasionally I found it was going into some particular writer I referenced them, Robbe-Grillet or Bataille or Sade. But it was mostly music and films. I felt like films were safe so I was thinking a lot about certain French films and how they worked. I was far enough away from the language that I thought I could work with that. A really big film was Resnais’s Providence, which is one of my favorites. It has a kind of meta-narrative about a writer who’s writing a book. You don’t really know what’s going on in it for a long time. John Gielgud is this kind of over the hill writer, and he’s drunk all the time, and he’s writing this novel about his family. You see the family and you see the novel he’s writing and everything is fucked up; people will be in rooms and suddenly rooms will change shape. It’s a great film. I was thinking a lot about that and then just odds and ends — Rohmer a little bit because I really love him, Perceval, I love that film, the artificial world of it. And then, just music in general: I was trying to work with how music is mixed and trying to make things happen simultaneously on all these different levels and have it be really three dimensional.
The Charismatic Voice: Kate Wolf Interviews Dennis Cooper (Los Angeles Review of Books)
review of The Marbled Swarm at keep your bridges burning
Secrecy, speed, affect: The Marbled Swarm by Ken Baumann (HTMLGIANT)
Swarms of Swarms: The Awakened Space of Dennis Cooper’s The Marbled Swarm
by Blake Butler (Fanzine)
review of The Marbled Swarm by Dennis Cooper
at O-bits, The Coffin Factory magazine blog
Dennis Cooper’s Dirty Secret by Mark Snyder (Paste Magazine)
The Ivory Dagger and the Bathroom Sink: On Dennis Cooper’s The Marbled Swarm by Joyelle McSweeney (Montevidayo)
Some Modest Considerations/Contemplations of Current Readings at Meta4 Magazine
For Review: The Marbled Swarm - Dennis Cooper by Bethany
(Subtle Melodrama Book Reviews)
‘The Marbled Swarm’ by Dennis Cooper (Lambda Literary)
review of The Marbled Swarm
by Alice V. Leaderman (Washington Independent Review of Books)
I’m What You Call a Cannibal
by Paul Goat Allen (Barnes and Noble Community Blog)
Book Marks: The Marbled Swarm by Richard Labonte (South Florida Gay News)
MARBLE CAKE by David Ehrenstein (David E’s Fablog)
Crazy Talk by Mark Athitakis
review of THE MARBLED SWARM by Sam Spokony (LitStack)
review of 'the marbled swarm' by dennis cooper (Mercantile North)
HORN! REVIEWS: The Marbled Swarm
a comic by Kevin Thomas (The Rumpus)
Locked in the Funhouse by Joshua Cohen (Bookforum)
The Marbled Swarm by Dennis Cooper:
Craftily rendered rape and cannibalism still feels like torture porn.
by Timothy Bracy (Time Out New York)
The Marbled Swarm by Dennis Cooper (Time Out Singapore)
Review–The Marbled Swarm by Dennis Cooper (That’s What She Read)
Book Review: The Marbled Swarm by Dennis Cooper
by Sara Habein (Persephone Magazine)
For those who haven't been reading this blog for a long time, I should probably explain the scrapbook thing in brief. Pretty much ever since I started writing fiction way, way back, I've made concurrent scrapbooks where I work out ideas and do visual and/or text experiments in relationship to whatever novel or long fiction piece I'm working on. I used to do them with scissors, glue, and actual notebooks. Now that the blog is my main turf, I do them here. I've done a couple here in the past. So I'm starting on something new, and this post has to do with it, and you might see more scrapbook pages on occasion if the fiction piece keeps panning out. I'm not sure how interesting or even coherent these scrapbook things are to people other than myself, but doing them is a help to my work, so I will when necessary. Feel free to just skip over these days if you want when they occur.
–JANUARY 11, 2008
* * *
NOVEMBER 27, 2006
Scrapbook Three, p. 3: 'The Beheadables'
JANUARY 12, 2007
Scrapbook Three, p. 6: 'Sad Sacks'
JANUARY 13, 2007
Questionnaire: Answer one (or more)
“Some of you longer term blog readers might remember the stop-start cannibal scrapbook I posted on the old blog and the related fiction piece I was writing. This boy, a Russian porn model named Chris, was the cannibal's ideal and intended dinner in both projects. The fiction piece kept running out of gas, and the scrapbook sputtered accordingly, but I'm going to give the fiction one last shot. So the cannibal wants to throw a little dinner party here on the blog, with nothing but Chris on the menu, and you would all be invited. Any RSVPs?”
FEBRUARY 2, 2007
Scrapbook Three, p. 7: 'They hate you'
FEBRUARY 5, 2007
Scrapbook One, p. 17: The cannibal's baby steps
FEBRUARY 20, 2007
Scrapbook One, p. 18: 10 from the Cannibal's porn stash
APRIL 2, 2007
Scrapbook One, p. 20: 'more from the Cannibal's porn stash,' plus three p.s.es
APRIL 17, 2007
Scrapbook One, p. 21: 'I heard you were looking for food'
JANUARY 11, 2008
Scrapbook Three, p. 1: 'Boy contemplates suicide while watching cartoons'
FEBRUARY 4, 2008
Scrapbook Three, p. 2: 'Mystical repression trajectory'
MARCH 18, 2009
A pile of photos related to the novel I'm writing that I've posted here to help me think outloud
“Okay, so, obviously, I put up a bunch of images that I'm consulting at the current time re: the novel I'm writing. I don't know how interesting or useful this post will be to anyone but me, and I suspect it's kind if opaque, but I'll just lay it out there, and if something springs to mind, feel free to comment or ask, and if it's of no interest at all, that's totally cool too. I'm off to work on that very novel right now. See you.”
APRIL 21, 2009
People don't seem to like these 'sad' scrapbook posts but doing them helps my writing so feel more free than ever to just talk among yourselves today
APRIL 22, 2009
Sade's Castle, Cardin's House
“Today: the curious tale of how an infamously decadent castle became an infamously decadent partially restored castle. Or something like that.”
MAY 8, 2009
Scrapbook page re: novel-in-progress: 'Their Older Friends'
“The kind of grim, melancholy sex post is one of my novel-related scrapbook things, made to study an idea and tone and think aloud. It may or may not be of much interest outside my head, so explore it or skip it or whatever as you wish.”
JULY 10, 2009
Scrapbook page re: novel-in-progress: The twin towers
“Yeah, that thing yesterday was connected to the cannibal novel in some strange way. It was me thinking through an idea. I don't know why working things out visually via imagery, and sometimes in combination with text, helps solve dilemmas I'm facing in my writing, but I've always done that.”
JULY 18, 2009
Self-Portrait Day: Objects of Desire, Day 2
The cannibals in DC's novel
“I doubt this is interesting, but the soon-to-be eaten character is based on the boy whom I pictured and mentioned that my cannibals wanted to eat in the recent-ish SPD: Objects of Desire post.”
NOVEMBER 23, 2009
Galerie Dennis Cooper presents ... Kittiwat Unarrom's Bakery
“The reason I did today's post isn't going to surprise a single one of you, I'm sure, but see if my interests and yours have colluded a little or not. Bye.”
FEBRUARY 25, 2010
“Oh, I was going to say for whatever it's worth that the post today is related to something I'm working on in my novel, and I would have tagged it as a scrapbook page except that to explain how that relationship works would call for something too complicated and lengthy for me to even want to try, so I decided to just let the post fend for itself, but thinking it might be kind of opaque, I'll just quickly note that it's derived from a novel-related experiment for the record.” ** “The seashells are in the same part of your mind in which the Phantom of the Opera resides.”
SEPTEMBER 10, 2010
“Unfinished novelists: trivial aside that I put this post together one day when I thought my novel was an unfinishable disaster. Okay, see you after the usual amount of time has passed.”
OCTOBER 8, 2010
for Pierre Clémenti
“I'm a huge fan of Pierre Clementi, and, since he's all over my novel, he's in my brain a lot, and so the post was born. Hope you like it.”
DECEMBER 13, 2010
The architectural considerations of the Murder Castle
“I leave you with the Murder Castle and its architecture, which interests me inherently and especially due to my finished novel's concerns and the concerns of my impending new piece with Gisele.”
JANUARY 5, 2011
Shall I, Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin*, conjurer, introduce myself to you, reader? And why not?
“Today's post: a whim, I guess. Slightly related to things I was looking into for my novel. I think it's an interesting post, but ... you tell me.”
JANUARY 7, 2011
90 facades, hide outs, and false fronts
MARCH 14, 2011
China Wholesale Spy camera hidden camera Discount Price!
“Um, oh, the post ... need I say anything about it or why I did it for you? Surely not. Enjoy, I hope.”
JULY 28, 2011
1 mirror maze
“I made a kind of very long, narrow meta-mirror maze for you today. Why? Fuck if I know. I hope it doesn't fall on blind eyes.”
JULY 18, 2011
“I'm interested in the castle/ chateaux thing in general, but I have been particularly trying to get to the Loire Valley since I started 'TMS', originally thinking I'd do novel research, so yes.”
SEPTEMBER 22, 2011
Introducing 'French Hole, being 15 outtakes from The Marbled Swarm'
“The original draft of The Marbled Swarm ran to just over 450 pages. The finished novel is around 200 pp. So I cut a lot out. Most of the cuts involved doing surgery on millions of little details, but I did remove some paragraphs and short passages, and I removed two entire chapters. About 70% of what is in French Hole are pieces of the two missing chapters.”–French Hole interview
FEBRUARY 19, 2009
Galerie Dennis Cooper presents ... Six guro fairytales by the Chinese paper doll artist known as 'On'
“On the post, my guro posts have never proven to be wildly popular, and so I rein in my impulses in that direction as best I can, but I think this paper doll artist's work is pretty unusual and labor intensive and delicate in a certain way and worth a look. If I'm wrong, sue me, ha ha.” *** “Your reaction to guro must be the correct or best one. I'm immune, for better or worse. Guro's all about studying the aesthetics involved for me. My mind takes those drawings apart like toys.”
JANUARY 9, 2010
The house that death built
“I was surprised to realize the other day that as much as I've love the place since my childhood, I've never done a proper post on Winchester Mystery House on the blog, and now, well, I have.”
FEBRUARY 18, 2010
Built (1978 - 1989), abandoned (1989), feared (1978 - 2008), photographed (2008), torn down (2009)
“Oh, see if you're interested like I am/was by the life and death of a strange housing project as seen in today's post, and then I guess let me and each other know.”
JANUARY 24, 2011
10 things that were never built in Los Angeles
“The post: I don't know ... I just love that kind of stuff: things that were imagined/ planned but never built, amazing things that have been demolished, etc. See what you think.”
FEBRUARY 11, 2011
“Okay, uh, yes, the post: I don't need to explain it really. I find demolished, cool buildings haunting. I went on a journey to find some the other day. I did. I collected them for you to see in case you might find them interesting. And that's the deal. Pure and simple.”
MARCH 9, 2011
Spotlight on ... Alain Robbe-Grillet 'The Voyeur' (1955)
“I'm on a train to Brest this morning.... Today I use the blog to spotlight probably the best known novel by one of my very favorite writers and biggest influences, Alain Robbe-Grillet, who, somewhat coincidentally, is originally from the very city that I am traveling to today.”
DECEMBER 22, 2008
** On the cooking/ language thing re: my novel, there are a number of ways I'm thinking of going on that stuff, from the lush and involved on one end to the scant and inferred on the other, and I haven't quite decided which exact approach is best, but I'm fast approaching the point where a decision will have to be made.
FEBRUARY 14, 2009
** No, no novel title yet. Vague ideas of what I think would be right, but the novel needs to grow a little more and become more exactly what it will be before I can figure out my usual interfering meets telegraphing meets secretive meets catchy, ha ha, title. My titles come in unpredictable places. Sometimes first, sometimes mid-stream, sometimes afterwards. It's tricky.
MARCH 5, 2009
** I'm pretty sure when I finish my novel, I'll show it to Amy Gerstler before anyone else sees it. I always have with the one exception of 'The Sluts', and I only didn't run it by her first because of logistical stuff at the time. But generally, I kind of need Amy's feedback before I can really feel like a novel is finished, and, yeah, I agree with you very much about the need for feedback. I just think it's a good idea to be careful at that stage with who you show it to. I know I can feel pretty fragile at that point.
MARCH 11, 2009
** On my novel, thus far at least, there hasn't been a specific musical influence, or rather not one particularly overriding artist or style of music. I'm thinking of it as my 'French novel', and my studying has mostly to do with my impressions of French life, the vibe and make-up of Paris, physically and tonally, and certain French literature that I'm revisiting to help me develop and maintain this weird voice I'm using, which I want to be very French but at the same time very not. At this point, the novel will be made up of maybe five or seven extremely long, unbroken chunks of prose or paragraphs, and I've been looking back a bit at French novels written in that very dense, impacted fashion to think about how I want to do it. Certainly music is sinking in, but there's nothing that's stood out as particularly helpful so far. It might yet. It's interesting maybe, though, that last night I saw this film here at the Recollets that both employs and is a kind of study of a short piece for church organ by Olivier Messiaen called 'Apparition of the Eternal Church', and I was blown away by the music, which is really heavy and dense and simple but very layered, and I was just thinking this morning how it might be useful to my novel. So there's that.
MARCH 12, 2009
** I've always written my novels by hand, but, as an experiment, I'm writing this one on the computer to see what that will do to the prose. I think that's one reason why the forward progress has been so gradual. It's really a different mode. So, yeah, unless I give up, I'm typing this novel, but I'm sure I'll go back to pen and paper next time.
MARCH 13, 2009
** My writing's going well, I think. It's growing every day at least a little. I've only had one several day period where I 'realized' it was shit and considered trashing it. I'm going to have to do a huge amount of revising, but that's standard for me.
** Yeah, I'm curious to see what difference writing on the computer makes too. I mean I feel the difference in process, but it'll be interesting from afar. It makes me edit the prose heavily straight off, which slows things down and might or might not be helpful, but I'm just going with it.
MARCH 17, 2009
** Yeah, I've always tried to get that particular hermetic effect of the work I most love but in something that feels open. It's weird you mention that because the novel I'm writing is deliberately hermetic in an intense way although heavily challenged from within. I've always wanted to try going all the way into hermeticism without qualifiers. We'll see. I don't mind talking about it, although it's always easier for me when I can answer queries. I get kind of flummoxed when I have to totally choose how to talk about my stuff. Tomorrow I'm posting my novel-in-progress's related images, so maybe that'll be an occasion or something. Thanks, Alan.
MARCH 18, 2009
** Well, with the novel I'm writing, the French influence is extremely deliberate. Not only are all the characters and the setting French, but I'm trying to sort of channel what I've learned or loved from French literature through my voice in an even kind of oppressive way to see what happens. So, in the current case, the influence is virtually total. Yeah, that 'ring' was deliberate, ha ha.
** I'm going for something where the hidden and secret is constant and operational on every level, literally in the form of secret spaces in the setting/story, as well as in the characters' identities, images, choices of communication, etc., and heavily in the prose itself, which is kind of a non-stop honeycomb of either suggested or revealed secrets. I'm not really thinking of 'Period' because the novels are so extremely different physically. This novel is super dense and loquacious and overbearing rather than skeletal and translucent. The only person who's read a bit of it described it as Sadean, and it might well be as close as I'll ever get to a weird homage to the guy who started it all, ha ha.
** Yeah, good eye, that's the Robbe-Grillet chateau. I'm using it as one of my settings, heavily transformed, of course. That chef guy is some relatively esteemed French chef, yeah. I'm even using his real name at the moment, but I'll switch it out later.
** I usually work with scrapbooks and images, yeah, except when I've don't let myself as part of the experiment for writing a novel. I didn't use them with 'My Loose Thread' in order to give it a particular quality. Like I was saying above, the image collecting both precedes and follows the beginning of the writing. I'll just look for things as needed. Like the chateau pic is one I took of the Robbe-Grillets' chateau a few years ago, and that's been set as a location for a long time, and the rue de Saintonge building is the one I always saw when I stepped out onto my balcony at the rue de Normandie apartment to smoke, so I was thinking about it for a long time too. This novel has no soundtrack at the moment. I'm trying to work deliberately without one as part of the novel's experiment.
** Yeah, the 'marbled swarm' thing is a curious thing to work with and around. It's absolutely key to how the novel works if it is working. The dad's marbled swarm having been passed down with flaws to the son, who then narrates the book in his faulty version. It's tricky and very complicated to work with, and I just hope the interest I'm finding in working with it translates, but you know that is. Gulp and proceed for now.
** The photos come at all different stages, before, during. And I change them if the character or the setting requires it, which they usually do. RG had a big influence on me generally, and since I'm using his chateau as a setting, I suppose I'm deliberately giving back in a weird way. In this case, yeah, being in France is making the novel happen, and there's no question that the combination of love I have for France and alienation I feel by not speaking the language is paramount to what the novel is doing. I guess I've been here long enough now that it works for me like LA does to a degree. It just is and can be contextualized without too much research except a bit on the landscape in different regions and specific research on French culinary arts and so on.
MARCH 23, 2009
** Yeah, all the characters in my novel are French at this point. One Algerian-French and one Japanese-French, and the rest totally Euro. It's greatly effecting the novel's voice, which belongs to one narrator, although he speaks/ writes in this strange, thick manner that he learned from his father who'd invented this particular form of French that attempts to contextualize particular qualities and effects endemic to other languages, which is kind of hard to explain.
MARCH 25, 2009
** Mm, my novel's up to maybe 32,000 words, I think. In my head, I'm about 2/3 the way through the first draft, but it's hard to tell because the novel's is both extremely structured and heavily given to improvisation inside that structure, and it's already much longer than I had assumed it would be at this point. So maybe I'm 2/3 through the initial draft, but, even when that's done, there's a massive ton of post-first draft work ahead of me.
MARCH 27, 2009
** I'm trying not to focus too much on any particular French writer, other than Sade, and instead sort of think of what French literature means to me or what particular impact it had on my writing and then forefront the basic effect almost ridiculously, which probably doesn't make a lot of sense.
APRIL 22, 2009
** Really great response to the scrapbook post. It's for the cannibal novel, but it's sort of for everything I'm working on in general, the new theater piece too. The excising, creating, stacking, comparing, etc. is more a kind of general experiment and reminder and meditative thing re: how I want emotion and the sexual to work and not work together in my writing in general.
JULY 13, 2009
** Oh, on the image based investigation re: my writing, it depends. The scrapbook page the other day was specific to trying figure out a particular character in the novel, or, more specifically, how the character's obsession with guro could create an alignment with his willingness to participate in the novel's cannibalism-related activities. I'm interested in making the character's decision to move from the imaginary into the real both sensible and alluringly un-spelled out. I'm always looking for ways to not to work with novelistic tropes like motivation and psychology-based explanations and all that crap, and sometimes in order to employ a more structure- and aesthetics-based connective thread/ explanation, I find I need to construct a kind of equational version of the problem I'm facing -- albeit a rather simplistic equation in the case of that scrapbook page -- in visual 'art', which is a medium that doesn't have heavy-handed expectations that narrative or motivation or explanatory psychology, etc. need be utilized. Or something. I'm not sure that made much sense, but thank you for wondering.
JULY 24, 2009
** Yeah, I wish I could have used 'Pierre Clementi'. It was my first choice, but, really, there are, like, six or so novels by interesting writers coming with titles just like that. Tao's 'Richard Yates' being one of them.
JULY 25, 2009
** I'm not specifically referencing any particular idea in linguistics in the writing or the narrative, although I'm doing my research and thinking behind the scenes. For all intents and purposes, the narrator's voice should have the quality of a mad invention, or, rather, a mad invention that's being short schrifted and misused by an acolyte. Ideally, it'll seem recognizable at first, but it will undercut and distort and play a certain kind of havoc with the voice it initially resembles as the novel progresses. That probably doesn't make much sense. It's hard to talk about it at this point because I'm still in the heat of developing it.
** On the novel's title, well, it's passed through a number of titles already. Originally, I wanted to title it 'Pierre Clementi', but there are a few novels coming out with someone's name as their title, so that put me off the choice. Then briefly it was called 'Hushed Tones', but that's too soft. Then it was going to be called 'French Hole', which I like, but it isn't exactly right somehow, so that title is sidelined at least for the moment. Right now, the title is 'The Marbled Swarm', but that probably won't end up sticking either. Long story short, the working title is itself a work in progress. 'The Consumer' is the title of a book by Michael Gira of the band Swans, but I don't know if that's what you were thinking of. How do you handle titles for your work?
JULY 27, 2009
** Interesting about your novel being about sexual fantasy but without described sex. So far, my cannibal novel has no actual cannibalism in it. It will, I'm almost sure, but I was surprised to have gotten through two-thirds of the 'narrative' without a single bite.
** On the novel title, I understand, and of course I don't take it personally. Here's the thing: the novel itself is hoity, or rather faux-hoity, subversively pretentious, self-consciously clever, off-putting, and kind of condescending, at least at first before it undercuts itself into something else. But starting with hoity is important, and that's a reason why I'm seriously considering that title. I think the title should probably telegraph the 'problem' rather than put the cart before the horse. I like the dare of doing that, the icky wrongness and obnoxiousness of the title, and how unlike my usual titles it is. I'm not sure yet, but I think it might be better to make the title a warning sign rather than a signal that something else is going on in a preemptive way. I'm not sure if that makes sense, and I haven't really decided yet, but that's the basic logic of that possible choice at this point.
AUGUST 10, 2009
** You know, hm, I think in fact you are quite correct that there's some Robbe-Grillet going on in my new novel, and the weird thing is, I hadn't even thought about that consciously. But you're right. R-G might even be the center point of the French lit. tribute aspect of the novel. How weird that I didn't think about that. How typically wondrous of you to have suggested it. Gosh.
AUGUST 11, 2009
** My novel's okay at the moment. I spent the last couple of months going back through what I've written, rebuilding and clarifying and expanding the substructures, and just a few days ago I reached a point where I'm ready to physically extend the novel, and I'm feeling kind of excited and relieved.
AUGUST 21, 2009
** I'm using Arial because it's so vacant and is really wrong for the voice I'm using in the novel which seemed like a good idea at the time that I chose it and I guess still is. 17,000 solid words is really good. Do you have any idea how many words you're aiming for ultimately? I must be at about 42,000 or something by now maybe, but those words are rough to semi-rough and are going to be heavily worked over so the actual amount means little. Steady and consistent in combo are one of those really reliable signs that you're not wrong in my experience. Excellent.
AUGUST 28, 2009
** You know I have this long standing plan that I'm only going to write one more novel after the one I'm working on right now -- if I can even manage to write one more -- and then quit the novel and fiction writing biz. That's my dream anyway. Then I can just design video games and play golf with Alice Cooper and stuff.
SEPTEMBER 30, 2009
** Ha ha, 400 pages, dream on. I'm currently at, uh, 214 pages in mss., and I think I'm about 3/4 through, and I'm sure I'm going to cut out a bunch of stuff out before I'm finished, so while the novel might be longish by my usual skinny standards, it'll probably still get accused of being anorexic.
OCTOBER 20, 2009
** Right now the novel is going pretty well. I've got the next section pretty mapped out finally and ready to be rendered. For better or worse, the voice/style of the novel is very complicated, and constructing it is slow and labor intensive in a way that drives me a bit crazy sometimes. I'm lucky to get one or two paragraphs in a tolerable first draft state per day because the sentences need to do all these tricks that are kind of layered but meshed together. But that's what I wanted to do, so I have to be tolerant of the pace that requires. At the moment, it's going as well as this novel can allow, and I'm happy about that.
NOVEMBER 13, 2009
** Yeah, I understand. I suppose I'm the same way. It's just that, like, say with the novel I'm writing, I set out to write a book about a cannibal, and I had a pretty specific idea of how I wanted to do that, but in the novel I've actually ended up writing, the cannibalism is more like a red herring than the subject, so my initial plans were ultimately just the right waving flag for me to be able to start the race or whatever.
NOVEMBER 14, 2009
** When I started the novel, I had a ton of basics in place. The main things, like that there would be this manner of thinking and speaking called 'the marbled swarm' both at the center of the novel and hidden in the novel, constantly hinted at and continually misrepresented by a narrator whose faulty, piecemeal, hand me down version of that manner of thinking and speaking would form the reader's amateurish guide, and that every character and setting and so on in the novel would be a physical manifestation of 'the marbled swarm' which would reach the reader unreliably through the aspiring voice of the narrator, and that this way of thinking would cause him to view cannibalism as a suitable pursuit and higher calling, etc., etc. -- which I'm thinking probably doesn't make much sense, sorry -- that was all there. But how all of that has ended up unfolding has been pretty intuitive and surprising to me, or, rather, I've been surprised by how much room to move I'd left myself despite having so many intricate rules. So the conception hasn't actually warped at all, although the narrative and content has been nothing but warped, if any of that makes any sense, ha ha.
NOVEMBER 27, 2009
** Mm, on the ending of mine, what it is or has to be is pretty much pre-set due to all the machinations in the novel, and they involve setting up a large number of unsolved mysteries within the narrative, some minute, some epic, but there have been issues about where and how and so on the ending would take place, and I've come up with five or so possibilities that were too thin in and of themselves, but I have this idea now of how to collage all of them together into what reads like a single ending but actually is and feels like the simultaneous endings of all of the imbedded stories rather than an overall conclusion, which I doubt makes much sense. It's complicated, you know, but the point is, I might have figured the whole thing out.
DECEMBER 25, 2009
** The novel's in a tough, slow phase and frustrating me mightily, but it's kind of a natural problem, and I'm not worried just very impatient to get back on track.
JANUARY 26, 2010
** Oh, fuck no, I'm not finished with a first draft. Ways to go. Painful ways to go yet before I hit that mark. I'm trying.
MARCH 12, 2010
** In the early stages of working on fiction, I try not to read fiction at all, and I did that with my novel-in-progress, but once I get the voice and everything down and secured, the pollution issue isn't worrisome anymore, and I dive back into reading. I've been reading books like crazy lately.
APRIL 23, 2010
** If you ask me, I think you're probably just in one of those horrible phases where you can't simulate objectivity about your own stuff. I hate those. Really, two days ago, I read through part of my novel and really thought all the way down to the bottom of my heart that it was a complete unsalvageable disaster. Yesterday, I peeked at it through my fingers, and, weird, it seemed weirdly kind of really good. I think that's what's up on your end, if you ask me. Emotional discombobulation and/or stress is squatting in your sense of your own talent. I bet. What do you want to bet? Sure, the writing cooperates sometimes and sometimes it doesn't come out right, but you're one seriously gifted writer, so, whatever's going on, it'll pass pretty quickly.
MAY 10, 2010
** My novel inches forward. I'm working on it almost constantly. It has very complicated insides and this very facadey voice that are proving very tough and slow going to get aligned and right, but as stressful and mind sapping as the process is right now, I feel fairly optimistic. Thank you for asking, man.
MAY 14, 2010
** My novel is really, really giving me a hard time and stressing me out right now, so the portions of yesterday when I worked it were a total drag. I might take a day off today for its and my sake.
JUNE 8, 2010
** Re: my novel, I had the cannibal premise for a long time, and it was finding the voice that took so much effort. That's always how it is for me. I just use whatever I'm fascinated or haunted or confused or scared or whatever by at the time, trust it, and then try to find the voice and style that will let me explore my disrupted self as fully as possible, if that makes sense.
JUNE 11, 2010
** Except for this new novel, which I'm typing on a computer as a formal experiment, I've always and only written by hand too. There's a stiffness or something, a loss of feeling or something, a kind of very slight numbness that comes with typing instead of handwriting. Wanting that stiffness is one of the reasons I'm computer bound for this baby, but never again.
JUNE 15, 2010
** My novel is still called 'The Marbled Swarm', and since that title has lasted this far, I'll be very surprised if it isn't the final title, assuming HP don't nix it for some reason. I do think about the title occasionally as I'm writing. In fact, I've tried a few times to figure out a way that my first and still beloved title idea 'French Hole' could work, but it won't. How's your work/ novel going?
JUNE 16, 2010
** Picking names is tricky, yeah. I tend to leave blanks that look like this -- () -- where the characters' names go until practically the very last moment. And then I usually just pick names that have the number of syllables that work best for my sentence rhythms and/or names/words that won't bug people by being repeated so many times. Slightly less than average names. But then ridiculous names can be chewy to work with. There's a minor-ish character in my novel-in-progress who's named Mon Petit Henri at the moment. I'm trying to have him referred to as 'him' as often as possible for the short time he gets to live.
JUNE 25, 2010
** 'French Hole' is a more pizzazzy title, but it won't work with the novel. 'The Marbled Swarm' is the name of a complex, manipulative manner of speaking invented by the narrator's father. The relationship to meat's marbling is in play as well. The narrator kind of half-learned how to employ the marbled swarm, and the novel is written in his flawed, watered down version of that manner of speaking. The novel is a weird cannibal mystery story on the surface, but it's really about his voice and its faulty relationship with his father's invention, and its real story takes place within the voice and the real mystery is therein, so that focus has kind of cemented the title, or has so far. I fear that makes little sense, but it will in the novel. Yeah, those McCarthy cannibals were spooky.
JUNE 26, 2010
** On your question, oh yeah, I absolutely think the medium in which you write effects the output, emotionally and pretty much in every way. Just for one example, writing about sex by hand is far, far more conducive to capturing the act's particular tactile and physical effects than when typing, for me at least. As I've mentioned here a ton, except for my novel-in-progress, I've written every one of my novels, stories, and poems by hand. It opens the material and me up in a way typing just can't. Some famous writer whose name I'm forgetting once said he could start reading a novel and immediately tell whether it was written by hand or on a keyboard. I can't quite do that, but I think it's possible you could tell the difference if you were really attuned to the reading experience. One of the big reasons I'm forcing myself to write my current novel on the computer is because I want the writing to feel detached from me and seem a kind of thinned out world unto itself that I can manipulate and play within. Anyway, long answer, sorry, but, yes, yes, I do completely think that writing on paper with a pen makes a huge difference. You have a supreme weekend on your end of things, okay?
JULY 8, 2010
** This novel isn't really giving me problems so far. It's just very hard to get right even if I know what I need to do to get it right. It might well start causing me problems as I reach the later parts, but it's not the problem causer that, say, 'Guide' and 'Period' were yet. Those fought me the most.
JULY 21, 2010
** Mm, when I get to the later parts of the novel during this heavy edit and rewrite phase, I'll know if it works. So far, I've thought it will, and I think I'm probably right, but I won't know until I know whether the prose can corral the mess or not. Right now, I'm not worrying too much about whether the ending is built on a structural flaw or not, but I am anticipating the structural move I've made and building in a support system in the earlier parts that I'm thinking will presage the conclusion and circumvent what I see as the greatest danger, namely that the novel's narrative element pays off not on the level of the narrative but within its substructure, if that makes any sense at all. The novel presents a surface mystery which is gradually revealed as a device through which the novel is conveying something far more complicated, a wall of prose concealing a secret passage. It's hard to describe.
SEPTEMBER 2, 2010
** You know, actually, everything you wrote is entirely applicable to what I'm going through with my novel right now. So, I thank you a whole lot for saying that. The thing with this novel is that I chose to construct and work with an unnatural voice. As difficult as my earlier novels were to get right, I could fall back on my natural instincts and patterns, and that removed a significant level of the problems I faced. With this one, I can't do that, and every sentence requires very detailed attention, and that attention involves working with rules and strictures that are more imposed upon me than I'm accustomed to, and the work is much more laborious and tiring. I'm confident that the material I want and need is all there, and that the complicated interiority and the points at which the substructures surface in the style are resolved in a raw state, but the finessing part is so taxing, more taxing than I'm used to. Anyway, I'm trying to be all about completion for now, and I'm trying to be accepting of what that is taking out of me, and we'll see. But if I write one more novel after this one as is my goal, I will never, ever, ever work like this gain, that's for fucking damned sure, ha ha. Anyway, blah blah, thanks, Alan. How is your novel treating you right now?
** Ah, you watched 'Providence'! Very cool! Oh, well, I suppose I thought Gielgud's fears, etc. about his children were revealed as aspects of the fictional characters that he based on his children in the novel he was writing by the film's rather more tender if sad end. No, that's not what writing is like for me. Yet anyway, ha ha. I only write in the daylight hours for one thing. Anyway, I'm glad you sought out the film. 'Providence' coincidentally has been something of a very strong influence on the novel I'm writing.
SEPTEMBER 4, 2010
** Oh, that's very interesting about the dilemma that arises in your work, and the comparison to a crime author's dilemma is beautiful. It's not so much that aspect being my problem, at least in the sense that the substructure and littering of clues and red herrings and so on is pretty locked down. It's both the voice itself and the final designing of the spots in the voice where the substructures surface and interact with the prose that's proving so difficult. The voice I'm working with is a kind of multi-sided three-dimensional object, or, I mean, it is to me as far the construction process goes. That's what I see it as. And the content or whatever is actually inside that object as opposed to the usual way things work, i.e. the content is three dimensional and the prose is flat, one-dimensional or whatever. So, it's sort of like creating different levels of transparence and translucence in the prose itself so the content will appear (or appear to appear in some cases) on the surface. Man, that makes no sense when I describe it. I shouldn't be trying to do this with a cold. Anyway, blah blah, I just mean the problems I'm facing right now are pretty much all language problems, I guess.
SEPTEMBER 16, 2010
** Yeah, I usually cut a ton of material. With 'TMS', in addition to the 100 or so pages that I think I'll need to cut from the ending, I've already cut 140+ pages and counting. But, like, 'God Jr.' was originally twice as long, and the amount of stuff I cut from 'The Sluts' is about three times as long as the finished book. The only novel of mine that stayed roughly the same length from start point to end point was 'My Loose Thread'.
SEPTEMBER 17, 2010
** I would guess that my new novel's concerns are very me, but I'm too amidst it to tell. In terms of the voice, form, structure, surface style, pacing, tone, yeah, I'm trying something new, or, if not new, then unfamiliar and quite difficult. There was something happening in my writing that kind of plateaued in the work in 'Ugly Man', and I guess I feel tired of writing like that, and I want to make my work more challenging to write and also to read.
SEPTEMBER 22, 2010
** My novel's majorly changed since then. I think only the chateau, Pierre Clementi as the father, and Isabelle Adjani as the mother are left at this point.
SEPTEMBER 29, 2010
** My writing goes good. I just started working on the last section of my novel finally. It's as raw as hell, but I think everything I need is hiding in there somewhere. I just need to fish and schmooze it out. In truth, my novel kind of is going to be like the world's first pop-up book that doesn't have pages that actually do physical calisthenics when you open them. I'm not kidding. You'll see what I mean.
OCTOBER 1, 2010
** What is my novel about? Oh, man, that's hard. Uh, it's about the way a 22 year old French guy talks. But it has chateaus and mansions full of secret passages that may or may not exist, and unsolved murders that may or may not have occurred, and scenes of gnarly, preciously described violence and strange sex, and lots of offstage cannibalism, and it's very confusing, and it makes total sense after you've read it about 15 times, and ... In other words, it's going to be 'The Da Vinci Code' of next year.
OCTOBER 2, 2010
** I'm in this phase of thinking that people are not to get or like (or both) this novel very much at all, and that's worrying me and slowing me down. I think I'm probably right that this novel will be badly received, but I need to not care, and I've been struggling not to care about that lately, and I need a burst of blind energy from somewhere.
OCTOBER 4, 2010
** Maybe I'm being too hard on my novel, I don't know. It's being hard on me. I think when/if I finish it, and when/if my publisher accepts it, and when you read it, you'll know what I mean. It's a weird one, that's for sure.
** Thanks for the kind thoughts about my novel. The way it's difficult is different from the way my earlier novels were difficult, and putting it out there feels far more like a crapshoot than usual. Like I said to James, I think you'll see what I mean when/if it comes out.
OCTOBER 5, 2010
** Novel report: I got so frustrated with trying to fix the final section that I gave up on it for a while. Now I've backtracked, and I'm polishing the earlier, much more together parts into the final version, which is slow going, but it makes the novel feel like it's going to be real, which is good.
OCTOBER 19, 2010
** My Monday: Worked on the novel, of course. I finished the almost final draft of the second section, and I'l start on the third one if I have any time today, and that feels good.
NOVEMBER 16, 2010
** Oh, my novel is chock-a-block with bizarre developments, and if they added up in some normal, elucidating way, I might even have one hell of a plot, but nah.
NOVEMBER 17, 2010
** At the moment, the narrator, who's been on a search to discover more about this weird building in Calais that his late father had secretly built as a gift to his youngest son Alfonse, now dead, and which is partly a weird building because the father had it designed by a cosmetic surgeon instead of an architect -- long story -- and the narrator has just found that the building was based on an illustration in one of Alfonse's mangas that retells the story of The Three Bears through a Japanese sensibility, and now he's talking about having Didier pretend to be Alfonse and go find this weird building, which is currently occupied by the cosmetic surgeon who designed it and his two sons.
NOVEMBER 19, 2010
** Uh, at the moment the narrator is retelling the story of when his friends (Francois, Didier, Olivier) and he accidentally found his late stash of cocaine when they thought a jar of white stuff in his loft was powdered sugar and poured it on their breakfast cereal and then got really, really hyper, and he's about to learn and recount the 'real' story behind the mysterious building in Calais.
NOVEMBER 20, 2010
** Let's see ... the narrator is in the early part of learning the secrets of the weird playhouse in Calais from his father's lawyer who has just talked to the mayor of the little town near the playhouse. It would take me many sentences to explain what's happening at the moment because the story about the playhouse is very complicated and reliant on things that have occurred in the novel so far, so I'll just leave it a mystery for now.
NOVEMBER 24, 2010
** My day: Worked on novel. I have maybe 20 pages left to go. The narrator, who's now back in the past, just watched a film on TV starring his biological father Pierre Clementi and had a revelation. I can't tell you more details 'cos it might spoil the novel when you read it. So, most of the day was taken up by novel work. I realized that my brain is so busy with the novel that I don't even know day or time I'm supposed to go to Munich and even really what I'm supposed to do there exactly, so I decided that I'd better figure that out today.
NOVEMBER 25, 2010
** My day: Worked on the novel a lot. Went slowish but okay. This final chapter isn't as totally messed up as I'd feared. At the moment, the narrator is walking from his childhood home in the Champs des Mars area of Paris to the Eiffel Tower where something will happen that will start the novel hurling and meandering towards its final sentence. Otherwise, I didn't see the Harry Potter movie, I'm not sure why.
DECEMBER 1, 2010
** It's too early to know when the novel will published. HP had said maybe late 2011. But the thing is, they have to accept it first, and it's a pretty strange book, so we'll see. Twice before, I've had situations where books of mine that were anticipated and under contract with publishers were rejected -- Grove rejected 'The Sluts', and Ecco/Harper Collins rejected 'My Loose Thread' -- so I'm trying to feel cautious until the novel gets the official okay. But, best case scenario, it might be published late next year.
** My day: Worked on novel. I'm going through it chapter by chapter, fiddling and refining. I'm giving each chapter two cleanings, which I think should be enough. I think I'll have the first chapter completely finished today and will start on the second one. So, I did that mostly.
DECEMBER 10, 2010
** Actually, I think the novel does explain the vegetarian/cannibal conundrum in a strange way, now that you mention it.
DECEMBER 14, 2010
** Oh, uh, my new novel is differently written than my other novels. More kind of baroque and faux-old fashioned but fucked up. Hard to describe. That's the tricky part, or one of them. Whether people who like my stuff will go with the style of this new book. I hope so.
** Well, showing the novel to my agent first is both business and protocol. Also, I'm into it because he's been my agent since the beginning, and he knows my work's history very well, and he looks at it from this totally other perspective vis a vis how it reads objectively, how it might be received by readers and critics, how it fits into my trajectory to those who look at my trajectory in an outside way, and other stuff, and hearing about that in a supportive way from him helps me sort of prepare myself psychologically and etc. re: that whole publishing part of the story of writing a novel. So, it's very good in that way. Kind of a friendly wake up call or something.
DECEMBER 18, 2010
** Yeah, in the past, I've pretty much always given my newly finished novels to my friend the poet Amy Gerstler to read first. I wait for her response before I send mss. to my agent. In this case, I had this deadline, and Amy usually takes a few weeks to read my novels, and she and I are a bit out of touch email-wise at the moment, so I didn't get that opportunity. But I think it'll be okay. It's definitely good that my agent likes the first half so much, but the novel becomes increasingly committed to, well, itself, I guess -- it would be hard to explain briefly -- as it goes along, so it's kind of important that he reads the whole thing because a lot of things are turned inside out in the latter half. I think he'll be fine with it, but I don't want to take things for granted, I guess. Thanks for asking, man.
DECEMBER 22, 2010
** No, ugh, my agent hasn't finished reading 'TMS' yet due to 'holidays, family', he says, and that's understandable and all, but it's driving me a bit batty, to be honest with you. So, I'm still checking my email constantly looking for said green light, pre-Xmas, I pray.
** I cleaned and wandered and read and wrote a bit and went out to buy food and cigarettes. I was so hoping that my agent would write or call on Monday as promised to tell me he'd read the novel and loved it. Well, he didn't promise to love it. But instead I got a text saying he'd been too busy to finish reading it, and so I'm still sitting here playing the waiting game, which is a drag. It's just psychological stuff, but I feel like the novel won't be finished until he has okayed it and sent to my publisher where I will then be waiting anxiously for my editor's response. But at least I'll have half of the battle done. Anyway, I'm just stressing and whining, sorry.
DECEMBER 27, 2010
** The character wanting to be flat thing originated in the Guro community. There's a strata of Guro aficionados who have flatness as a fantasy/ fetish and call themselves 'squish junkies', and my character is extremely into mangas and anime, so it comes from there, although I elaborated it into something a bit wilder in my novel. No EM Forster referencing at all though. All of the novel's influences and referrals are French. Poor Forster, though.
JANUARY 6, 2011
** Oh, how the post played into my novel? Not specifically, although a legendary, unnamed French magician is a key reference. The novel is kind of an elaborate sleight of hand, smokescreen, fake facade, etc, and magic, magic tricks, the formal elements of magic shows, etc. are one of the thematic through-lines and interlinked reference points that make the novel's 'trick' work, at least in the schematic of the narrator who's doing the sleight of hand. Wow, that probably makes no sense at all, ha ha. It's a 'hard to explain easily' novel, I guess. Anyway, thanks for asking, man.
** Otherwise, mm, I reread my novel for the first time since I finished it, and I'm just far enough away from it now to think, Wow, this is great, how in the hell did I do that? Ha ha, but that felt nice, even if it turns out that I'm wrong.
JANUARY 29, 2011
** And, well, yes, you are very correct on my usage of the tonally highfalutin puzzle voice in 'TMS'. There's a ton of things hiding in the voice, layer upon layer, but at its core, you got it. Thanks! Repetition can also magnify feeling and make it unbearable too. Repetition can do a lot. I think every word we say is a disguise and gross simplification. It's just matter of how consciously the word is designed. A one-way ticket can always lead to another, right?
FEBRUARY 10, 2011
** My strategies re: 'TMS'? The basics are really similar to the strategies I used in 'Period'. It's just the front that's different, very dense instead of skeletal and very overtly located in the premise of a single mind working instead of that aspect being hidden. It's very languagey and pretty much only about language when it comes right down to it. Not that that is foreign to my work at all, but in my earlier books, the reader usually has to figure that out via clues provided within the content, and this one tells you it's all about language and the reader needs to find the content or the true content based on clues within the language. Which doesn't make much sense when you haven't read the novel. In this case, the 'pushing things too far' had to do with the narrative and story rather than with the novel's mechanisms, and I had to reign in a lot of events and storylines so they wouldn't create gaps or disruptions in the language play. I ended up cutting more than half of the first draft of the novel out, and pretty much all the things I cut were narratives and people pleasing things. Mm, it's a really hard book to talk about in the abstract because it ends up sounding like some purely formal exercise when it's not at all. I can tell you more once the novel is out and if you have any question then.
MARCH 9, 2011
** Yeah, I was able to do something with my writing in 'TMS' that I've been wanting and trying to do unsuccessfully since forever. My very first novella 'SAFE' was a feeble, botched attempt, so I've basically been looking for the solution ever since. I feel like I've taken my writing to a new level or something, in terms of my personal goals, and, obviously, that feels great. Whether readers will be interested or care or agree is another matter, but, at the moment, I'm confident enough to be excited to find out.
APRIL 12, 2011
** I originally started writing 'TMS' because I had this weird idea that I would like to eat this Russian porn star named Chris. But I didn't know him obviously, and he didn't die, as far as I know, and I'm not as creepy as my imagination gets sometimes, so it never happened.
APRIL 28, 2011
** Oh, 'TMS' should best be read in book form not because of any art in there. There's no art, just words. It's the way the book works conceptually that makes the book form ideal. I don't want to say too much about that, but you'll see what I mean.
** You're reading 'TMS', gulp. And so far so good? Phew, very cool. The stuff you're saying about the writing in the first part is totally right on. Awesome. This probably won't surprise you, but I actually spent a ridiculous amount of time debating about whether to a comma in that spot or not, and I ultimately went with not because I think the sliding there is ultimately more fruitful and true to my strategy, but, yeah, I get what you mean. There was a comma there for a long time, and maybe you're right, but, since the book is now locked down and unchangeable, I think I'll try to rely on my final decision even if I can't recall the details of the reasoning behind that decision anymore, oops, ha ha. Anyway, dude, so happy and proud that you're reading it, and your thoughts on it are serious manna for me.
MAY 21, 2011
** Most of the time I have at least something of a say re: my US book covers. With the first few Grove Press books, they wanted my novels' covers to have an overall look, and they asked me to pick an artist to provide their imagery, and I picked Robert Flynt, whose photos were on my book covers up through 'Try', but I had no say in what images they used or the book's designs. I was good with the 'Closer' and 'Frisk' covers, although they look pretty dated now, but I've never liked the 'Try' cover at all. They let me choose the covers for 'Guide' and 'Period' and 'God Jr.', all by Joel Westendorf, and those are the favorites of my covers. I definitely did not have anything to do with the cover of 'The Sluts', and it's a least favorite of mine. You know the story on 'MLT'. With my recent books at HP, they run the design ideas by me and let me choose and give my stamp of approval. For 'The Marbled Swarm', they let me send in a bunch of images I liked, and they chose one -- a photo of Pierre Clementi -- and built the design around it. So, there you go. Thanks for asking, man. Good Thursday to you.
MAY 31, 2011
** Oh, man, thank you about 'The Marbled Swarm'. I will admit that I've been anxious to hear your opinion. Yeah, man, thank you so much! I'm kind of overexcited about the novel and really feel like I've gotten my work to this new, higher plane or something with it, and that 'TMS' utilizes what talent I have in a peak way or something, and that excitement is making me more nervous than usual about the reception. Well, you answered the question you asked me in your follow up, actually. But if you mean within the narrative thread of the mesh and if you mean within the specious causality that it is seeming to organize, the answer is 'both', if that makes sense. Freeh is basically pronounced like free but with a kind of vague exhalation sound at the end. Freeh in fact had some roots in that book you sent me, yes, indeed, although he himself is an invention or a figurehead devised to activate the particular thread in which he is an issue. Anyway, yeah, thank you a ton, David. I'm really, really thrilled that the novel is pleasing you.
JULY 21, 2011
** 'Providence' is one of my very favorite all time films, yeah. And I was thinking about it a lot when I was writing 'The Marbled Swarm', which might even be detectable.
** How long do I wait between books? Yeah, it depends. When I was writing the Cycle, they followed each other immediately 'cos I had them basically planned, but since then, it's been more random. I was thinking about and experimenting in advance of 'The Marbled Swarm' for four or so years, which is pretty long for me.
AUGUST 3, 2011
** And thank you a lot and a whole lot more for the good words about 'TMS'. The rules I used in creating the voice are all laid out in the novel. If one wanted to, one could think of my plans as the father's voice and my skills as the son's voice, in a way. I worked very carefully to make sure the voice had no clear resemblance to any other writers' voices. That's part of why it took me so long to develop. There are turns in the novel that kind of call in the work of select other writers, and, in those cases, their work does filter into my voice for brief periods, but I think their styles are fully homogenized, or I hope so. All the writers I 'used' in that way are French, and they're referenced in the novel. Any artists and things that aren't French and who are referenced in the novel are clues to the sources of the pollution that the son -- i.e., my habits as an American writer -- wreaks upon the father's linguistic invention. I hope that makes sense. I see what you mean about Firbank, and he was actually someone whose influence I went way out of my way to avoid for the obvious reasons. But, yeah, the parallel there makes sense. Thanks, Alan.
AUGUST 10, 2011
** Man, thank you so much for those words about 'TMS'. That means a fucking ton. And your timing is impeccable 'cos 'TMS' just got its first official review in Library Journal, and it's the same dismissive, condescending shit my books have always gotten from the official sources most of the time, and I've been depressed ever since. It's weird, T. There's just nothing I can do as a writer to prevent being written off as a 'gay' 'transgressive' writer perpetrating an update on 'the more outré passages of Burroughs and Genet' whose most recent book aka 'TMS' is only of interest to fans of The Marquis de Sade. 'Cos, yeah, the thing is, I do feel like this novel is the best thing I've ever written, and to feel that way and really know that's true, actually, and to have something I've worked so hard on and that really raises my work's game be written off as just another of my usual gay transgressive books fit only for people who like that kind of weird stuff is so disheartening, or, I guess mostly, worrying, 'cos if that's indicative of the response the book's going to get, it's going to kill me. Anyway, sorry about the rant. I need to thicken my skin and fast.
AUGUST 19, 2011
** That's so, so interesting that you bring up the 'elegance in a way of supplanting ethics' thing. I was heavily into that and working/experimenting with that idea in 'The Marbled Swarm'. ' ... that elegance can be, not a decoy exactly, but itself a position or a programme that obviates or alleviates ulterior ethical anxieties?' Exactly! Wow, amazing that you brought that up. Yeah, that was heavily being examined and played with in my head and in my process for the novel. Fascinating stuff, to me at least. Really fascinating. Cool!
SEPTEMBER 8, 2011
** At one point I was looking around online and saw that the new issue of Bookforum is out and that 'The Marbled Swarm' is reviewed in it by the writer Joshua Cohen. I admire Cohen's fiction, but I've never seen him not write a very negative review, so it made me quite nervous. I wrote to HP to ask if they'd seen the review. They said they hadn't, but then they wrote to me a few minutes later to say they had just gotten it, and they sent it to me. I had a bad feeling about it, so I decided not to read it until today when maybe I would be more prepared. The evening was kind of nothing. I just did blog stuff and wrote some emails and so on. I'm kind of in a bad, fucked mood, so I think I'll just leave it there.
SEPTEMBER 9, 2011
** The review ... kind of weirded and creeped me out, but as no one around has read it at this point, and because talking about it will probably pull down my mood, I guess I'll wait until such time as other people read it and tell me what they think before I talk about it.
SEPTEMBER 13, 2011
** The Library Journal review was totally tossed off with one eye on my Wikipedia page. Cohen's review of 'Richard Yates' is appalling and nothing but self-indicting.
** Pierre Clementi is all over my novel. He almost is my novel.
SEPTEMBER 19, 2011
** Thanks about the PR interview. And thanks for your read on the Bookforum review. Mm, yeah. For me, that review's condescending and passive aggressive and waveringly hostile tone was very weird. That tone does seem to be the gear that Cohen's book reviews are mostly stuck in. And his interpretation of what the novel is doing/about is totally off base, and, of course, I was not happy about that since it's the first 'public' review that the book has gotten and in a very good magazine/context. I'm interested to hear you say that because my take on the review is similar, but there have been a couple of people who thought it was a positive review, and so I've been curious to see what the different reactions to the review are 'cos I feel kind of confused about it, I guess. I don't put any blame on the Bookforum editors at all. They could have thought putting Cohen on the case was an interesting assignment in a neutral way. Plus, it's the first time that a book of mine has ever been reviewed in Bookforum because the former editor there hated my work, so I feel grateful that they delegated the space. But, yeah, that Cohen review has been a bit of a painful experience for me. Thanks, man.
SEPTEMBER 20, 2011
** Mm, well, the 'problem' of the novel's voice is, according to the speaker's father aka the voice's inventor, that the speaker has misaligned the marbled swarm's ingredients and put English at its forefront, so your feeling that the textures and tropes of English and American speech are paramount is not incorrect, in my opinion, although the sentence structure itself is more French-derived albeit heavily corrupted, if that makes sense.
SEPTEMBER 23, 2011
** Clementi's son hasn't had any direct contact with me. He did have some kind of hand in nixing the photo of PC that was originally to be on the cover and which is seen on the galleys, which required HP to use an image of PC that the estate had no control over. I asked my French publisher a while back if he was concerned about problems vis-a-vis the young Clementi, and he said he didn't think there would be any issues. Other than the phantom son construct, he's not portrayed in the novel as being anyone he wasn't. But if the young Clementi is trigger happy, well, we'll see.
SEPTEMBER 24, 2011
** Re: 'FH', my idea is that I'm going to read it at the 'TMS' launch events, or at some of them, instead of reading from the novel itself because it's a really hard novel to read from.
SEPTEMBER 26, 2011
** Yes, I came across Rick Gibson in my novel research. Quite the interesting character, no? Cannibalism has totally gone downhill since his heyday.
** Well, yeah, the review was very weird. I think the problem has to do with that thing you mentioned where he decided it was important that I had moved to France when I did relative to when other American writers had moved to France in the past, and then he decided that was the key to the book and went with it even though that biographical event and the supposed exhaustion of the French avant-garde and transgressive lit., etc., which I don't even believe is true, has absolutely nothing to do with my novel or with my intentions. So, he was reviewing his own imaginary novel and using my novel as its circumstantial evidence, and of course my novel didn't illustrate his fantasy novel very easily, so he ended up with this weird review wherein 'TMS' was the round peg and his fantasy novel was the square hole. No, he didn't understand my novel, that's one thing that I can say for sure. Anyway, water under the bridge and all that. The one dressed in black, ha ha, okay, I'm sure to spot you. Actually, I might just. If you came to a reading of mine here dressed in black, you would be like the secret word in those old Magic Eye posters.
** Well, I'm into Robbe-Grillet's idea in a general way, and 'TMS' has a lot of topical references very carefully employed. The 'PotC' reference in that excerpt is tied into a bunch of crosshatched, ongoing references/ secret 'tunnels' in the prose and content. It would be hard to explain without your having read the novel, but there's a Disney thread, an actor thread, a make up/disguise thread, a fairytale/ adventure story as representation thread, and others that converge kind of constantly in the form of images and metaphors and references in the novel's surface -- kind of like, say, how the presence and a mental image of sewers will manifest upon seeing manhole covers on the streets -- and that 'PofC' thing was one of the millions of check-points when it was still in the novel. If that makes any sense at all, ha ha.
SEPTEMBER 27, 2011
** Ha, I had this feeling you were going to see that review's bright side. Well, hm, sure, it's nice to be complimented, but if the context involves a reading that has nothing to do with my intentions, then the compliment becomes rather messy. For instance, in that paragraph you quoted, his whole premise is wrong vis-à-vis my intentions. That whole idea that I'm deliberately performing an act of autocannibalism as a response to an exhaustion of the vanguard, etc., and wrote a book that transgresses primarily by emphasizing the cliches of its transgression, etc., is not only not the case, but I find it kind of arrogant and offensive. I don't agree with either of those assessments. And, for the record, there isn't one comparison of an asshole to an underground passage in the entire book. That's a total projection. So, yeah, it's awfully nice of him to declare me a foremost novelist, but what does that mean if it derives from a complete misinterpretation of my book if not my work in general. If he thinks 'TMS' is the book he describes and my most 'personal, honest', and 'most unreadable' novel, then he's complimenting some imaginary writer who isn't me. And, well, since you go on to basically agree with me about most of that, then surely you must understand why the compliment means little to me. Yeah, the interpretation of the end of the novel as a confession, etc., is so way off. But he set off on his own premise about my expatriate status having something central to do with the novel's construction, etc. and he used that biography-based assumption as some kind of overriding guide, and I guess that claim at the end is the only way his interpretation would pan out. Anyway, yeah, I understand your own thinking about the novel, and I can't say that that's not going on in a certain way, but to forefront that reading as Cohen did misses and obscures the point. I talk a little bit in the Paris Review interview about how the book was conceived and written, and I think maybe that bit initially explains how the book should best be read in a basic way. Lastly on the review, Cohen like anyone is entitled to his interpretation. What bugged me is that it accepts no other possibility and it doesn't question its own approach in the slightest, and with a book like 'TMS' where the fluidity of interpretation is one of the major points, and where, if anything, I'm trying to create something that hasn't quite existed before and that does not accommodate a preexisting line of interpretation, and whether I've failed at that or succeeded at all, the rigidity and know-it-all tone and kind of old school, deconstructionist bent of Cohen's take was a big problem for me. But I'm over it, ha ha. Anyway, I really appreciate your thoughts and your read very much, D. I hope you understand where I'm coming from. Later, pal.
SEPTEMBER 29, 2011
** Let's see ... Well, I think a reader's assumption that the secret is me is understandable and not really a problem, but stopping short and deciding that the me who might be lurking in there is a me who's navel-gazing about my body of work and longstanding practice is a corrupted stretch. I agree that JC seemed like a reader of my work, but I didn't see any signs that he had read my post-Cycle novels. His reading seem very based in his read on the Cycle. Actually, I think I'm pretty completely aware of the novel's sincerity's trickiness and how the novel deliberately makes it difficult to weigh up its merits because, if I'm understanding what you mean, those were central goals of mine. There's also a deliberate attempt to -- greatly paraphrasing my strategy -- make unknowingness itself seductive, and the interplay and stress between those deliberations and their possible effects was very key in my construction. Yeah, I hope there will be people for whom 'TMS' is their first book of mine because I would very much like to hear how it reads to someone like that. I think of 'TMS' as a closed system, as I do about all of my post-Cycle novels, and I guess I think knowing my other work provides both an 'in' and a hurdle simultaneously, but that combo interests me. George wasn't a direct muse for the novel, no. No doubt he's in there in some way, but, no, he was not in my thinking or in my planning at all. Lia Purpura ... I don't know her work at all. What is that book's title? If you mentioned it and if my eyes missed it, sorry. Sounds fascinating, of course. What you say she says makes a lot of sense. Elegance and the felicitous are poisons that should be used very cautiously. I personally don't think the problem is charisma; I think the problem is that artists have a very fractional and reductive idea of how charisma works, and they think only of its relationship to beauty. I think they see the two as conjoined, which is a very stunted approach. I would say they don't think about and employ charisma enough, in fact. Charisma is a veritable universe, and most artists only think about the twinkling of its lights. Or that's my two cents. Thanks a lot, David. Discussing this stuff with you is a very stimulating honor.
OCTOBER 1, 2011
** Ken Baumann, Ken! Man, what can I say? I'm just blown away by your review. I had not imagined an ideal response, but when I was reading your piece, I felt like there could not be a better, more honoring review. The fact that you created your own system full of mysteries and direct engagements is so fantastic, and I feel like you really got the novel in the ways I hoped it would be gotten. It thrills me that you found and were impacted by some the novel's really important (to me) secret passages: the actor/ performance thread which is really a central one, the numbers thing, the cartoon/ fantasy/ play thread that is, again, very key, the novel's sleight of hand, the 'Believe lies' recommendation, and etc. The confusion talk, the board game reference, the way it is not like Robbe-Grillet, ... Maybe most excitingly to me, you seem to really, really get the emotional admission, and how I want it work within the novel both in the moment and at large. Honestly, you getting that is a huge relief to me. Yeah, the entire review is just fantastic. I was literally trembling with excitement when I read it. I'm sure I'll say more to you later as I contemplate it further, but, man, so much gratitude to you. And, yeah, I feel tremendous relief, and it's hard to know to thank you adequately for that. Man, promise me that you'll have a great weekend, okay.
OCTOBER 4, 2011
** There is one secret passage metaphor thing in 'TMS' but it's attached to all the bodies' orifices, not just the butt's.
OCTOBER 21, 2011
** Oh, I was looking at a number of Rohmers, basically the ones that I could find in large chunks or more online. 'Pauline à la plage', 'Claire's Knee', 'Conte de printemps', 'Conte d'automne', and others. Apart from 'Perceval le Gallois', which is a big favorite film of mine and which was something I was thinking about a lot when I was working on 'The Marbled Swarm', I hadn't watched his films in a long time, and I had forgotten how phenomenally great they are. Very inspiring.
NOVEMBER 3, 2011
** Oh, I got an email from Balthazar Clementi yesterday, as he seems to have gotten wind of the 'TMS' connection with his father. It was very friendly, but he hasn't read the novel yet. I hope he'll see it as the paean, albeit peculiar, to his father that it intends to be.
** Yeah, I cut the actual cannibalism scenes out of the novel in the end, although there are some stray bits of them in the discards in 'French Hole'.
NOVEMBER 8, 2011
** Oh, questions, lovely, thanks. Let's see ... (1) Very hard. Well, once I developed the voice, that wasn't so hard to maintain in and of itself 'cos it took me a long time to get the voice right, and, by the time I did, its rules and shape and texture and all that were kind of memorized or even like second nature. It was a little weird switching back and forth between it and my real blah-blah p.s. style every day, but I figured out how to do that. But the detailing in the voice was really, really hard to get right, as was the whole system of what to reveal and how much, and I had this overall system going on that I mentioned in the PR interview where I wanted everything that was key or important in the novel to be happening simultaneously all the time and to always be present for the reader, albeit very faintly or secretly at times, mixed into the background or middle-ground or foreground, and the amount of revising and editing I had to do to get all of that working right was insane. Actually, unlearning that voice and getting my writing emptied out so I can rebuild it has been really hard too. (2) No, I'm not doing that, or not exactly. Any mockery is only meant to echo within the walls of the novel and within the construct/conceit of the voice, but I'm not doing any kind of self-referential thing about my work or commentary on 'transgressive' literature or anything like that. If that's there, it's not something I deliberately set out to do. I'm not sure those answers make a lot of sense, but you're an awfully good guy to ask them.
NOVEMBER 11, 2011
** Yeah, the style of 'TMS' is kind of difficult at first, I think, or it can be, and I did my best to find ways to hold the readers until they get used to it and once it starts to complicate itself. It's kind of designed such that if you can make it through the second section without bailing, you're accustomed enough that the novel can start doing its trickier and bigger tricks, ideally. I don't know, blah blah, but, anyway, I'm really happy that you're finding it worthwhile. I'm really, really pleased to hear that, Bill, thanks!
NOVEMBER 14, 2011
** The readings start tonight, so, we'll see about making the novel's voice work in mine. I'm kind of looking at it as a write off. Like there's no way to make it work, so I'm just going to read it 'cos it's my duty or whatever, or read bits or the outtakes and hope that something about my voice combined with it does something pleasant that's unforeseeable to me at the moment.
NOVEMBER 19, 2011
** I took the 'French Hole' stuff out of 'TMS' because, one, the novel would have been too long and would have asked too much of the reader's patience, and, two, because I think it's better that no one gets literally eaten in the book, and, three, because it would have overly grounded the novel in the Paris setting, and that would have fucked with the slipperiness, and for other reasons. All that stuff was long since removed before my editor saw the novel. The novel just got a very light line edit to catch typos and stuff. I almost never get very edited at all 'cos I'm so anal and careful I guess.
NOVEMBER 29, 2011
** Yeah, the response to 'TMS' has been great so far. I'm quite happy. I'm even weirdly happy that someone sent me a link yesterday to a review that falls into the classic gay critic-hating-on-my stuff type wherein I'm a (quote) 's/m chicken cult writer' and TMS is an 'old wheezing bag of hot air novel' in which 'Miss Cooper's rather haughty "s & m queen" signature is still there'. It was like running into a high school friend.
NOVEMBER 30, 2011
** No, I don't think 'TMS' requires readers being in the know at all. I think the less you come to it with, the better. I started reading supposedly difficult books when I was fifteen after only having read easy crap all my life, and I was fascinated and seduced. I always try to write books that a so-called 'know-nothing' could read, get, and get excited by. I always try to make anything difficult in my work an open door.
DECEMBER 1, 2011
** The new issue of Time Out New York has denounced 'TMS' as 'torture porn', which mostly just seems like a bizarre assessment to me. I got interviewed by the fine writer Brian Joseph Davis at Huffington Post.
DECEMBER 2, 2011
** Thank you about my 'Time Out' shellacking. I just laughed, though. I thought it was like he was typing to his therapist or something.
** And, yeah, 'torture porn' is one of the many new trendy words that mean 'I do not want to think'.
DECEMBER 12, 2011
** Yeah, for me, for my long term and ultimate goals as a writer, I do feel like I succeeded in 'TMS' more fully than I've ever been able to do before. So, of course, I'm thrilled if you feel similarly. Thank you one more time, man. It means a lot to hear that.
** As for your question, first of all, good eye. Well, briefly, there's this system of references or little clues or what have you in 'TMS' that speak to the flawed nature of the narrator's marbled swarm, and specifically details its problem of having given American English excessive preference as an ingredient, and that's one example. Yeah, the 'multitudes' misquote is from Whitman not Rimbaud, and, were one interested in pursuing the nature of the mistake, the kind of hidden reference is to the theory that Whitman was a big influence on Rimbaud even though Rimbaud never acknowledged Whitman as an influence, and then, if you were to accept that theory and wanted to get really trainspotter about it, and I don't really expect anyone to care that much, it could lead one into the notion that Rimbaud was very influenced by both Whitman and Baudelaire, two writers whose works and philosophies were oppositional, and the tension there, and the 'TMS' narrator choosing Whitman over Baudelaire, as it were, is again a kind indicator of his voice's problem. But I think that's probably much more behind the scenes stuff than you were looking for. Anyway, does that help at all? If you have any more questions, just ask, and I would love to get to see your paper when you're done.
DECEMBER 13, 2011
** Hey. Thank you. About the father/son thing. Yeah, I was hoping it would circumvent or anchor or supplement or something the other movements. I'm so pleased you felt that. I consider that aspect really important.
DECEMBER 22, 2011
** I did make a bunch of graphs and charts and stuff for 'TMS'. But to make them work and help me, I had to kind of animate and combine them in my head, so I don't think they're all that telling on their own.
** The 'TMS' sentences were determined by a number of factors, the syllables' sounds and accents and the rhythmic/arhythmic result of their pairings certainly being a very big determinate. But I had to think about and work with the sentences' transparency a lot at the same time, to think of them as sheer and to make sure the thematic and narrative-based undergarments were the right degree of visible, if that makes sense?
JANUARY 14, 2012
** No, I hate the way 'TMS' sounds in my voice. When I read it aloud, I ruin it. Maybe Louis Garrel could do the audio book. Someone with an attitude and a thick French accent might be able to pull it off.
FEBRUARY 8, 2012
** Oh, cheap seats ... let me see if I can give you a short version 'cos everything in that novel has a whole bunch of reasonings and schemings behind it. I guess basically it's one of the devices I used early on in the novel to make the reader start to think about their location in relationship to the novel 'cos setting up that way of thinking is crucial if the reader is going to know how enter one of the novel's major threads/secret passages, and which is housed/revealed within the intermittent direct address parts of the narrator's marbled swarm, and which ideally will lead the reader directly to where the narrator/author is hiding by the novel's end. If that makes sense, ha ha. It's also setting up the particular kind of the comedy of the novel, which I guess is happening within his arrogant/insecure tone. I don't know if that will help you at all. Anyway, it's really great to hear you talk about the novel like that. Thanks!
FEBRUARY 14, 2012
** Yeah, it's so weird to read the reviews of 'TMS' that talk about it like it's some kind of non-stop sex and cannibalism and horror show when, as you said, there's only that one scene with Alfonse, and even it is all metaphored out. But that's human nature, I guess.
MAY 9, 2012
** The readers whom I know about who had a lot of problems with 'TMS' were both newcomers and also some fans, a lot of whom seemed to be the thrill-seeking kind of readers of my stuff, who just didn't seem to like that the disturbing and emotional aspects were so much less clear-cut and immediately accessible, I think.
Dennis Cooper: The Official Online Resource
DC’s: Dennis Cooper’s blog
Interview of Dennis Cooper by Robert Glück
Dennis Cooper interviewed on Bookworm
What Is Experimental Literature?: Five Questions for Dennis Cooper
by Christopher Higgs (HTMLGIANT)
Conversation: Dennis Cooper by Jon Reiss (Vol. 1 Brooklyn)
Late-Night Special: A Conversation Between Dennis Cooper and Blake Butler
by Alec Niedenthal (HTMLGIANT)
Dennis Cooper interviewed by Benjamin Weissman (Bomb)
An Interview with Dennis Cooper by David F. Hoenigman (Word Riot)
Dennis Cooper on Zine Days (They Were Good) and
Transgressive Blogs (There Is Such a Thing):
The Vice Interview by Steve Lafreniere
Why I Dig Dennis Cooper by Tim Jones-Yelvington (Big Other)
No One Cares for Me (Tussy Talk)
An Exacting Laxness: The Ideal Politics of Dennis Cooper by Matthew Stadler
“Is this for real? Is that a stupid question?”: A Review of Dennis Cooper’s The Sluts
by Megan Milks (fictions present)
Reading Review: Dennis Cooper & Tony O’Neill at Bryant Park
by Zachary German (MobyLives)
Dennis Cooper, The Art of Fiction: unauthorized outtakes from the Paris Review interview