Doug's Reviews > Frisk

Frisk by Dennis Cooper
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's review
Feb 15, 2011

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Read in February, 2011

What a book to finish on Valentine's Day, huh?

I'm not sure what I *thought* Frisk was going to be about, it was just one of those books that I had heard about from a couple of different sources right near the same time and so I figured it would be interesting to ride that coincidence. I did see a quick blurb, and noticed it had to do with obsession and snuff films and recreation and I thought, "Oh, alright." The blurb barely sunk in until I was a chapter or two inside...

Things this book has, if any are a deal breaker, the rest of the review is probably not necessary for you:

* drug abuse (yeah, I know, I'm just setting it up...),
* Face punching to the point of scarring,
* Sharing of illicit variances with underage folk,
* the word "ass smell" and its derivations get used a lot,
* numerous references to blossoming anuses,
* coprophagia, and
* a bit of the old ultraviolence against a young boy with most/all of above thrown in.

If you read through that list and are still around, then I can say that this book also has some other really fascinating bits. It is a melancholy journey of obsession, of objectifying others, of trying to understand what makes up the essence of a lover. Of trying to recreate the past and failing. Of owning beauty by destroying it. Of knowing someone by destroying them. Of testing the boundaries of friendship. It really is fodder for discussion and bookclub reading, but see above...

The resulting mix is vaguely like embedding a thirty minute, gorgeous discussion of the women of Shakespeare and what the represent to modern gender politics in the middle of a hard-core gay S&M video. It is delightful in its own kerfuffle--a literary equivalent to scatological, pornographic chess-boxing--but one imagines the Venn diagram where the big circle that says "Fans of literary discussions about the frailty relationships" and the big circle that says "Fans of graphic depictions of violent, body-fluid-involved sex" is probably not one that has a *huge* cross over. And in my case, I'm not so much a fan of the latter (hell, of the former, for that matter)as one who does not mind it; so the book was middling to me in that respect.

However, the total package, as a mood piece, as a bottled bit of bother, worked for me. I would not recommend it a whole lot unless someone knows what they are getting into, and there is an element toward the end that deflated my enjoyment (I won't spoil what, even though it was an interesting plot device) even though the ending itself was touching and vaguely beautiful.

Note: For fans of Palahniuk's Fight Club, this book has as scene where the narrator wails on a blond pretty boy after being overcome with the need to destroy. Later, the pretty boy is somewhat recreated as a harder, scarred man. This very much so echoes the later Fight Club where the narrator wails on Angelface, and something similar occurs. I'm not sure if Chuck read Frisk or not, so it could either be homage or coincidence.

Second Note: The book plays around with narrative structure. The "I" is Dennis, but often stretches of the story are told from other points of view, and sometimes events that guessed at or fictionalized are woven back into the narrative. For fans of that sort of thing, here you go.
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Laura (new)

Laura You had me until coprophagia. I'd probably still read this, but only if I could tell when those parts were coming up so I could skip them. Yes, I am a wuss.

message 2: by Doug (last edited Feb 16, 2011 12:41AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Doug The scenes involving the actual stuff (and not just references etc) all happen toward the end, if I am not forgetting one. Dennis is going to write several letters, explaining his exploits, and there is a set of dark deeds done. I'd guess this is about 3/5-4/5 the way through the book. They get worse and worse, and more graphic...and then the penultimate one (you'll know it) is where the full on coprophagia occurs. They talk about it before hand so if you were to skip a half-dozen paragraphs, you could possibly avoid.

By the way, I don't think it counts as a wuss to skip such things. I tend to plow through, but I reserve the right to make *this* face (points to self making a very scrunched face).

Which actually brings me to something I left out of my review, one of the places I heard about this novel was in a discussion of literary horror, and specifically queer horror. I'm not sure if the word horror applies, but you definitely should not read this with expecting a bit of the face scrunching.

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