The first novel in the notorious, award-winning George Miles Cycle—”a crowning achievement in American letters [from] a master of transgressive fiction” (Tony O’Neill, The Guardian, UK).
Proclaimed “the most dangerous writer in America” by the Village Voice, Dennis Cooper began his controversial novel cycle with Closer, introducing readers to the enigmatic George Miles. A physically beautiful and strangely passive teenager, George attracts his fellow students with irresistible mystery, like a wallet lying on the street. One after another, his friends rifle through him searching for love or simply momentary relief from the mindlessness of middle America.
George passes through the arms of men like John, an artist who drains his portraits of humanity in order to find what lies beneath; Alex, fascinated by splatter films and pornography; and Steve, who turns his parents’ garage into a nightclub. But George remains a tantalizing blur until he’s picked up by two men in their forties. Tom and Philippe, obsessed with the beauty of death, believe George to be the perfect object for their passion.
Like Jean Genet and William Burroughs, Dennis Cooper assaults the senses as he engages the mind in this “bleak and brilliant” novel that deserves recognition as “(at least) a minor classic” (John Ash, The Washington Post Book World).
In chapters titled with the names of the characters on whom they focus, this brief novel links together a small, bleakly debauched cast of gay men. Dedicated to sex and violence for the catharsis these acts would seem to promise, the men settle into a dull grind of physical encounters that, no matter how searing, fail to provide transcendence. The fault of their miserable existence seems to lie not in them, but in existence itself; life by its very nature can offer little but a thrillingly painful prelude to death. The novel's problem is not Cooper's point of view but the monotony of his spare, honest treatment: his deadpan look at chronic sexual anomie is so faithful to the phenomenon it describes that the work succumbs, laconically, to weariness. Scope is further limited by Cooper's decision to address the condition of despair more than its cause. Though convincing, sometimes darkly funny evidence of dissolution and decay abounds (`` . . . men had worn him away. They'd fastened him to a treadmill that spun until there was nothing around but a vague outline, smeared in blood''), memorable details tend to languish in dolorous prose.