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Closer

(George Miles Cycle #1)

3.58  ·  Rating details ·  2,171 ratings  ·  122 reviews
Like Jean Genet and William Burroughs, Dennis Cooper assaults the senses as he engages the mind with visions of nightmare intensity in a world where stimulation without excitement and experience without emotion are prized.
Paperback, 131 pages
Published January 18th 1994 by Grove Press (first published March 3rd 1989)
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Average rating 3.58  · 
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 ·  2,171 ratings  ·  122 reviews


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Jeffrey Keeten
”That’s why I’m happy I’m famous for what I’m so famous for. Being gorgeous, I mean. It helps me believe in myself and not worry that I’m just a bunch of blue tubes inside a skin wrapper, which is what everyone actually is. I am gorgeous. That’s not a brag. I can tell. People tell me so. I’m also friendly and sweet and naive except I do tend to talk way too much and I lie all the time. But you have to tell lies when somebody is judging you every minute. You have to cover yourself up with some ki ...more
Timothy Urges
Jun 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I’m going to use this to make myself change, like a starting point. I think that’s the best thing to do. I won’t buy any more drugs. I’ll try not to do what I always do. I never do anything other than school and Philippe.

Passive, acid-addicted George Miles might as well be dead. He spends his time with others playing that exact role. What he needs is someone who cares.

Closer explores the minds and motives of several men that come in contact with George Miles and his beauty.

Typical postmodern D
...more
brian
Aug 09, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
i burned through 5 dennis coopers in as many days and i'm in no proper state to comment. so, lemme bring to your attention two exemplary goodreaders i came across as i checked out how y'all responded to cooper's extreme punchfucking asseating & ballsniffing.

1. eddie watkins nails what's best about these books. y'see, i'd be content with some obvious booshit like calling out cooper as a postmodern genet but watkins writes this:


"The particular obsession in Frisk does originate in a mere image (a
...more
Eddie Watkins
May 29, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: american-fiction
Gay Fetish Lit. Did I ever think I would read such a thing? Never. Did I even know it existed? Sure, but only vaguely. Did I enjoy it? Definitely. Does this mean that my straight married life is going crooked? Only in the imagination (a far more capacious world than we are generally allowed in workaday life), and as a straight man (with an inner asexual gay man) I'm probably more interested in reading about gay sex anyway.

What is happening to me in my early middle-age? Due to no crisis that I kn
...more
Ben Winch
Apr 17, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: anglo, american
Dennis Cooper likes to play dumb. He doesn’t like explaining. He’ll drop you in the middle of a teenager’s popstar fantasy and you’ll think “C’mon, get real” before you realise it’s not real, nor meant to be. He’ll drag you with his desultory creatures through sex act after sex act, and you’ll find not one shred of titillation. Gay porn? This is the opposite. Anti-porn. Sex aversion therapy. In Closer’s sequel Frisk, if he got turned on during a sex-scene he’d rewrite it. This, to me, speaks of ...more
Imogen
Mar 20, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: queer types
Re-read 2016. This is a book about traumatized teenagers trying to process their trauma in a world where being gay isn't really a big deal - or at least where the trauma of being gay is such a normal part of life that it no longer scans as traumatic. It's brutal and vicious and when I look back at the stuff that stuck out at me my first time through it - the salacious stuff - I get mad at my younger self. I wish I'd dog-eared the page where the word "closer" appears because that paragraph felt l ...more
Mizuki
Mar 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: queer-writing
I need to re-read it. I need to re-read it. I need to re-read it.

I read Dennis Cooper's Closer years ago after finding it in the library, I honestly don't remember what had happened in the story but I do remember myself thinking it's a damn great queer novel---one of the best I've read ever. The story has a lot of things to do with sexual desire, guy pinning after another guy but can't (or unwilling to) act upon it, unhealthy dreams, unhealthy way of thinking, etc. I seriously need to re-read it
...more
James
Apr 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
"Closer" by Dennis Cooper. I forget exactly when I purchased this book (most likely either in 2001 or 2002), but I recall finding it in the "gay fiction" section at the local Borders. I think the main reason why I sought it out was because Poppy Z. Brite recommended it in an interview. It was the first Cooper novel I ever read, and at the time I had no idea that not only would I befriend the author a few years later, but that he would also give me my first professional publishing credit. I was ( ...more
Nate D
Jul 21, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: video camera eyes
Recommended to Nate D by: the utter normalness of my own highschool days, cast into relief
This is harsh stuff, the most miserable of highschool desire and isolation and obsession, rendered simply readable through oddly desensitized viewpoints, anesthetized by repeated disappointment, emotional denial, and drugs. This makes the prose, at the start, sort of oddly emptied and minimal, often believably high-school-histrionic even as it's totally detached from the actual horribleness going on. It's part of an awareness of its own content, I guess, a current of post-modern reflection on na ...more
Kevin
Jul 11, 2007 rated it it was amazing
I remember being in a Seattle bookstore when I bought this. Probably around '93. I asked for some William Burroughs and the clerk said I should give this a try. Thank you, clerk! This is one of the most disturbing and visceral books I have ever read. And it lead me to read all the other Cooper books I could get a hold of.
Gori Suture
Apr 10, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: dark souls with troubled minds
Recommended to Gori by: Read an excerpt in a book
Closer’s plot is irrelevant. This book is a masterpiece in character study. Cooper vivisects disenchanted gay teens, exposing their fragility and humanity like a mad doctor ripping the nervous system from his subject with abject fascination. Blatantly honest yet poetically beautiful. Cooper is far ahead of his time.
Hanaa
Feb 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
4.5. Might change it to a 5 after I give it more thought.

Leo Robertson
Oct 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
Such an original, assured and poetic voice.

Nails the nihilism and bleakness of adolescence. The agony of inertia, of not knowing what you're supposed to do. If anything means anything or if it's all a projection. If it's a projection then the bleakness must be your fault, your faulty projection, which leads to shame. A shame from which numbness or death—whichever—seem like nice respites. Drugs and fucking feel good for a while. And if you hate yourself, and feel powerless, it's nice to be desire
...more
joshua caleb
Sep 19, 2007 rated it really liked it
at first I'll admit that I didn't quite know what to do with this book. There are approximately 2 sentences before the first characters introduced begin having sex rather unceremoniously and it often talks about pulling the flesh away from the faces and bodies of young men. And other things it's not polite to just jump in and talk about without warning.

When I finished the book I was really impressed with the very open and inconclusive ending which still somehow made me feel as if I'd arrived the
...more
sonny (no longer in use)
Oct 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2014, recently-read, 5
weird how this is the first in the george miles cycle and it's the last one in the cycle for me to read. I wish i started with this book then work through them even though they don't fit in story wise. I wish this because i would have been able to see this stunning author grow. Like i did with Bret Easton Ellis. The novel is in the sparse and vague fashion that I have came to love so much, this is the main attraction to any of his works except The Marbled Swarm which was the first novel and hard ...more
Griffin Alexander
Jun 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
To be read in tandem with The Invention of Morel. What Octavio Paz wrote of the latter would serve as a good aesthetic summary of Cooper's book here under review: "[The] theme is not cosmic, but metaphysical: the body is imaginary, and we bow to the tyranny of a phantom. Love is a privileged perception, the most complete and total perception not only of the unreality of the world but of our own unreality: we not only traverse a realm of shadows, we ourselves are shadows." ...more
Udai
Feb 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: novels, fiction
There was a time when I watched gore and slasher movies without even blinking. I liked how violence triggered different emotions like pain and fear and sadness, the thing that I lacked I think is sympathy. After reading what I’ve read I discovered that books turned me into a more sympathetic person, I now can’t watch the Saw series in a row without even blinking. And for this novel and the gore in it what would’ve been appealing once to me was repulsing. But sometimes violence is necessary in or ...more
Sam Glatt
Mar 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Everyone is empty, everyone is dead inside, seeking that death on the outside or whatever gets them as close to it as they can be without going over the edge.

These lines and sentences are empty and hollow, but always with purpose. It's difficult to engage with these characters and accept their actions, but that's precisely what draws you in and keeps you there. You want them to escape these self-inflicted horrors, so you read on in hopes that they do. But when it comes to Dennis Cooper, the tru
...more
A
Jun 20, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-2012
My theory about Dennis Cooper is also the one I have about Chuck Palahniuk: the first book you read by him becomes your favorite. (I have also heard this theory in relation to Sondheim musicals, and I think it holds true there, as well.) For me, The Sluts is the high water mark against which all of Cooper's other books about drugged-out teens preyed on by sadistically pathetic older men is judged. And I'm sad to say that, as such, this tale -- his first and thus to some extent his most shocking ...more
Jordaan Mason
Apr 28, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own-it, queer, fiction
reading dennis cooper always makes my body feel like a crazy bag of garbage and i'm like what the hell is this thing i am living in, what am i but a sack of blood and skin and shit, but somehow, though, i don't find this to be an inherently nihilistic thing - it is in fact exactly the thing that brings me to these texts.

two things i learned while reading this book: 1) if you read it in a public place strangers who have also read cooper will feel it's totally cool to talk to you, which is a good
...more
Ryan
Mar 08, 2007 rated it did not like it
is there something i'm missing here?

more fantasies about disaffected pretty gay boys doing drugs and having sex to cartoonish degrees. when i say that i mean EVERY character is gay, EVERY character does drugs, and EVERY character thinks about nothing but sex. CONSTANTLY. i don't get it. to me these characters are unrealistic and unrelatable.

this book is better than Guide and i should say that Cooper is not without flair. he has a knack for cadence and pace and his imagery is rather vivid. he a
...more
Thomas Rose-Masters
This slight volume (and the first part of a quintet of books) was in turns exhilarating, disgusting, profound, puerile, gross, sublime, meaningful and trite. As a whole its value seems indisputable as a prime example of transgressive literature. I also loved the way Cooper wrote it as a queer novel that was not about queerness, or not just about queerness, and gave it an unsuspected depth of emotion and human understanding. Amazing, if not for the faint of heart.
Bruno
Feb 11, 2018 rated it liked it
Strangely funny and compelling for a book about a guy with an ass like a horror movie.
Dusty Myers
Mar 18, 2008 rated it it was ok
Closer is Dennis Cooper's first novel in a pentology of novels about George Miles, who in this novel is the beloved figure for half a dozen high school boys, all gay and all pretty much cool with it. George gets involved with a middle-aged French man named Philippe, and through that connection travels down a dark road of dangerous, filthy sex that almost gets him killed in the basement of some suburban home.

In line with the literary fads that I think produced these stories (in many ways the nove
...more
Daniel
Aug 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
I can handle the vivid descriptions of coprophilia and snuff movies but what shocked me was Cooper using "could care less" instead of "couldn't care less." Disturbing.
John
Feb 28, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Maybe I am a so bitter and jaded that I fail to see the electricity of Cooper's sparse and withholding prose. Much like the Kathy Acker, I see Cooper as coming too late to the party and bringing only the coked up incoherence of the 1980s pale washed out neon of a Patrick Nagel painting. I mean I get it, these are the terrible infants of American Punk Rock. Cooper's vision supposedly bristles with edgy, unblinking perversion. The gutter realism of the fringes of fringe communities fueled by and f ...more
Leor
May 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In Closer, fetishes are contagious, and escalate quickly into life-or-death situations. It felt both sex-negative (by which I don't mean anti-sex, but rather divested from the idea that sex is essentially good) and deeply freaky. This book scared me and at the same time made me feel less alone in the world.
Much like the fantasy Disneyland rides with which the main character is obsessed, the book has an internal environment and fun-house mirror symbol repertoire all its own (ex. endlessly recurr
...more
JQ Salazar
Aug 21, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5/5 - This was some dark shit. Took me almost until halfway to really get in its groove, but once I saw what it was doing I became pretty enamored of how well the writing captures a peculiar type of repulsiveness, everything feeling brutally real and lived-in. Some characters hit harder than others, but the two George chapters really glue the whole thing together. There’s a chapter about a serial killer that left out just enough details to really sink its hooks into me. Would like to read Coop ...more
Chris
Oct 19, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: default, fiction, queer
Everyone in Closer is attractive, gay, and twink-like (not to mention middle class and white) - yet consumed by ennui. A parade of James Deans at a Rebel Without a Cause convention. Each chapter takes the perspective of a new narrator, examining their lives through character portraits, but whilst these are well written, they stray too close to being vehicles for existential angst (and Cooper's wry social commentary), rather than being full and living people. Cooper's teens talk and live and fuck ...more
Kristi
May 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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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

Other books in the series

George Miles Cycle (5 books)
  • Frisk
  • Try
  • Guide
  • Period

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