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My Loose Thread

3.48  ·  Rating details ·  1,174 ratings  ·  62 reviews
Larry is a teenager wrestling not only with his sexuality and the implications of a physical relationship with his younger brother, but with the very point of his existence. He is numb to almost all that surrounds him. As the book opens, Larry has been paid $500 by a senior to kill a fellow student and retrieve the boy's notebook. It seems simple enough. However, once Larr ...more
Paperback, 130 pages
Published June 19th 2003 by Canongate UK (first published 2002)
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Average rating 3.48  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,174 ratings  ·  62 reviews

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Timothy Urges
Feb 10, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Repression has an ugly face, forcing urges into the psyche.

Larry loves a boy who loves his brother whom Larry loves. Murder, delusion, and lies ensue. Larry is confused.
Robin Graber
Jan 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: queer-as-hell
This was my first experience with Dennis Cooper and wow it was a wild ride. A guy at a bookstore I frequent told me to check him and out and he was not wrong. This story is outrageous and weird but also incredibly good. This novel is all over the place. Cooper really puts you in the head of the protagonist and he can’t make sense of anything. It made it hard for me to sometimes understand what was happening. I had to reread the same passage a couple times throughout this book. Be prepared for al ...more
Roof Beam Reader (Adam)
One of Dennis Cooper's most incredible works. Two gay brothers (one who accepts what he is, the other denies it) both fall in love with the same boy - a depressed teenager with no real capacity for love. The boys' rejection sends them into the arms of one another, fulfilling the sexual/physical desires they imagine having with their disturbed friend. The teen kills himself, which sends the brothers into confusion and insanity. Unbelievably sad, scary, and painful. Cooper is brutally honest in hi ...more
Jeffrey Bumiller
Dec 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Wow what a sad, messed up little story. If this is the type of stuff I can expect from Dennis Cooper I'm gonna have to read all of his work.
Emilio Cojal
Oct 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Inmensely powerful work that explores teenage depression, moral vacuity and the confusion of love, all set to the backdrop of a culture where violence is often the only way one can be heard.
Leo Robertson
Oct 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
Extreme vagueness and disconnection. Nothing matters to no one and everyone is interchangeable. And maybe gay or something. Also, Columbine.

Very clever and original voice though, a reminder that culture can completely define and redefine the meaning of everything. Maybe what we think is the most horrific thing ever happens somewhere else, or in some other time, and nobody even cares. Which would be even more horrible, but it's so hidden beneath, in this case the deeply superficial, that it fails
Nate D
Despite the extreme emotions (actually extreme numbness mixed with emotions), and continual extremes of plot movement and backstory, this is actually sort of straight-forward for Dennis Cooper. He includes a notebook within the story which you might expect to modify the reader's certainty of whose narrative they're actually reading, but that never really happens. Instead this all feels strangely unconceptual and direct. Any confusion here isn't generally structural or philosophic so much as just ...more
Apr 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
In My Loose Thread, Dennis Cooper peers through the eyes of a teen psychotic to paint a convincing portrait of contemporary high school as a limbo of repressed and confused sexuality, inhabited by teens experiencing various gray shades of depression and blood/drug/alcohol toxicity levels. It's not a novel to sit down and savor, but one that yanks you in, perhaps against your wishes. By the end, you no longer wonder how tragedies like Columbine happen, but why they don't happen more often.

The dis
Sep 11, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: him, us
One has to wonder if teenage protagonists and a teenage narrator dealing with teenage problems automatically make a book "YA". This is very similar in style to some recent YA novels such as How I Live Now but I'm not so sure I would add it to my classroom library. I recently sold a copy to a bookstore customer (an adult, thank goodness) who told me "Hey, my favorite book is To Kill A Mockingbird, I can handle issues." Of course, I didn't hear back from her.
Oct 13, 2008 rated it really liked it
Jayita recommended this to me and I was knocked out by it. The back cover description would never have compelled me to pick this up, but I'm glad I did. (Though both Jayita and I noted that the emotional punch of the book lingered, so take that into account if you have an overactive imagination and propensity for insomnia.) The book is an incredible example of structure and pace being utilized to create parallels between the reader's experience of the book and the protagonist's experience of the ...more
Feb 23, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: ya-noir, gay-lesbian
Gregg Araki style teen nihilism featuring an endless scorecard of kids murdered just so our hero could protect his flagging masculinity.
The symbolism of a journal full of secrets in a backpack was straight out of Creative Writing 101, it wasn't terribly clever.
Our hero Larry was emotionally constipated, taking credit for a murder he assumed he committed, crying every two and a half pages, and incapable of differentiating between love and lust. Yes, teenagers can be inarticulate and confused but
Feb 17, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: brooding high schoolers, dark gay guys, intellectual gay guys
Shelves: finished, gay, favorites
Sometimes, this book is hard to follow. The plot is quite morbid, and the topics covered are anything but light. I don't know who thought any part of this book was funny - it most certainly is not.

With that said, I believe it to be a worthwhile read. It's not all that long to begin with, and the story is quite compelling. In a couple hours, you can have this knocked out. Go for it!
Jan 19, 2016 rated it it was ok
Dennis Cooper novels are a bit like anal sex. Hard to get into at first but then open and enjoyable. However, this novel was just painful. After hearing lots of positive things I was really excited to read it but I was just disappointed from beginning to end. The plot was underdeveloped, the characters even more so, it just didn't go anywhere. "I'm not gay" was basically the plot. Loved a lot of his other works but this was awful. Sorry, Coops.
Sean Meriwether
May 18, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: lgtbq
Dennis Cooper my well be the David Lynch of queer culture. His shockaholic fiction ignores the superficial and drives straight down the dark road of teenaged boys emotionally ruined by the fragmented environments they inhabit. "My Loose Thread" is no exception, and is a tight and destructive addition to his marganalized opus. The novel centers on Larry, a boy who has so little control over his own life and sexual drives that he numbly repeats, "I'm really confused" like a modern-day mantra. He's ...more
Leonard Klossner
Dec 12, 2018 rated it did not like it
This book SUCKS! This is easily one of the WORST books I've read in a long time which is a bummer because I've been meaning to read this fkn guy for a while, but, good Lord, this book was so underwhelming.

Hey, Dennis Cooper fans, is he always this bad? I'll probably still give Closer a shot, but my expectations have been absolutely decimated and that book has since plummeted to the bottom of my to-read list.

I see this dude mentioned by the same circles that frik with Guyotat, Genet, Sotos, de Sa
Mar 20, 2020 added it
I'm not exactly sure why I picked up My Loose Thread by Dennis Cooper but I'm uncomfortably glad that I did. I have to admit that I found the initial few pages a bit hard to grasp but, due to it being a fairly short novella, I plugged away at it and found a picture that built before me. A hideous, broken, grim picture of awful teenage angst and mental issues. After I finished I went back and re-read those first few pages I'd struggled through and they all made sense. Maybe I just couldn't tune i ...more
Sep 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
"The notebook's in my trunk, but Pete agreed to say it got burned. Either that, or I'll tell everyone that Pete's gay. So he's pissed off, and saying how I'm the one who's gay and insane and a liar. Then we get to Gilman's house. His bedroom's painted black, and has some chairs for his Nazi group meetings. I went to one, but couldn't make up my mind. There's a poster of Harris and Kliebald, the two Columbine guys. Gilman made it in Photoshop, and put the words 'Coming Soon' across the top so his ...more
Thomas Hale
Aug 01, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A novella about sexual repression, angst, violence and bitterness. The teenage protagonist sleepwalks through a life already half-destroyed by trauma and isolation. His narrative voice is vague and uncertain about everything except violence and regret, the two things he feels permitted to experience. Terrified of being gay, terrified of being rejected, his only outlet is committing horrific acts. Incest and sexual assault feature heavily, and the shadow of the Columbine massacre hangs heavy over ...more
Anders Furze
Oct 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
It’s hard to describe the effect of reading this...kind of like if you fired a bullet and didn’t protect your ears. There’s violence and rage, and a crushing sense of inevitability, and it’s muffled by the protagonist’s indirect language. You don’t quite grasp the implications as the bullet fires, but then almost as soon as it’s started this short read is over, and the ringing stops, and all that’s left is to survey the damage.
Arno Van
Aug 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
"Elegant prose and literary lawlessness ... In another country or another era, his books would be circulated in secret, explosive samizdat editions that friends and fans would pass around and savour like forbidden absinthe... High risk literature." (New York Times)

This. Reading Cooper is like shoving your prefrontal cortex through a blender.
Oct 26, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: lgbtqia-fiction
A book that is numb, confusing thanks to an unreliable narrator, and full of conflicting emotions. A guy is in love with his brother and a lot of people die. Some fucked up things as per usual, but it's what you can expect with Dennis Cooper's work. Too confusing for my own good though.
Jul 03, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: didn-t-finish
I used to really like Dennis Cooper it's been more that a few years since I last read him and I can now safely say he's not my cup of tea anymore. It seemed like most of the writing was for shock value and I didn't feel like I got a proper look into what the characters were really like.
Eoghan Keegan
Aug 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
Reading this book is like biting off more food than you can chew and your jaw gets tired trying to reduce the mass in your mouth down to a comfortable size, but by the time your jaw gets painful from the effort you're still not through the worst of it.
meow Zane
Eeeeek very painful—haunted by columbine and internalized homophobia and incest
May 04, 2020 added it
love denny c
First of all, what you should always remember is that Larry, the protagonist, is the most unreliable of unreliable narrators and knowing that will save you a lot of confusion.

It starts in media res, or maybe just after all the most important things happened. The prose isn't much to comment on. In fact it's simpler than simple. But that's the point. If you were to remove one word the whole thing would fall apart into incoherence. There are no million dollar words or saturated descriptions.

In fac
Jul 30, 2011 rated it it was ok
There was nothing terribly positive about this story; in fact, I didn’t find anything that redeemed the appalling subject matter in the writing. The story is based around Larry who routinely admits to being confused by his actions and the actions of those around him. The novel tackles subject matter such as incest, murder, self-harm, school shootings, and homosexuality versus homophobia – all in all it was not a pleasant read. I felt like the novelist was using Larry’s confusion as an excuse for ...more
Mar 27, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-2009
This book pissed me off. The cover is filled with accolades about the writer. They say only he can tackle such a dangerous subject and get away with it. Bullshit. He shouldn't have got away with it.

The story is about a bunch of idiot teens that are obsessed with gayness, sex, murder, and self-punishment. Many of them are cutters and wear the body scars like war medals. Obviously inspired by all of the recent school shooting and in particular the Columbine incident, the book follows one idiot as
Jan 24, 2015 rated it it was ok
This is one of the sickest stories I've read. That's not why I gave it 2 stars though. I've read some sick shit before. Hello, I love Stephen King! However the author of this novel, compared by some critics as a modern day Burroughs, makes his material hard to read. It's disjointed not only in prose but in story-line. Perhaps this was done purposely as the teens (and adults) in the novel are completely out of tune. Every character in this short book, with the possible exception of Larry's younge ...more
Jun 27, 2012 rated it liked it
This was definitely not the book I was expecting when a friend of mine tossed it into a Christmas package alongside a hand-knitted scarf and sugar cookies. From the beginning to the end, I felt so sure that at some point, things were going to start looking up for someone, anyone in the story...but that was wishful thinking on a very grand scale. The dark, gritty subject matter was only bearable for me through the lens of the almost completely detached style it was written in. While reading I fel ...more
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Dennis Cooper was born on January 10, 1953 and grew up in the Southern California cities of Covina and Arcadia. In 1976, he founded Little Caesar Magazine and Press, which he ran until 1982. In 1985, he moved to Amsterdam for two and a half years, where he began his ten year long project, The George Miles Cycle, an interconnected sequence of five novels that includes Closer, Frisk, Try, Guide, and ...more

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