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I’ve long been a fan of Dennis Cooper’s, the author of such formally audacious, heartbreakingly terrifying and sexually transgressive novels as Closer, Frisk and My Loose Thread. He has a new novel, God, Jr., a “PG-13” one, coming out this spring, but in the meantime Cooper has chosen the small Void Books to publish a “side project,” The Sluts, he considers too much for his regular publisher, Grove. Considering that Cooper has spent his entire literary career living outside the envelope, it does make me a little afraid to contemplate this new one. Says the press release:

Set largely on the pages of a Web site where gay male escorts are reviewed by their clients, and told through the postings, emails, and conversations of several dozen unreliable narrators, The Sluts chronicles the evolution of one young escort’s date with a satisfied client into a metafiction of pornography, lies, half-truths, and myth. Explicit, shocking, comical, and displaying the author’s signature flair for blending structural complexity with direct, stylish, accessible language, The Sluts is Cooper’s most transgressive novel since Frisk, and one of his most innovative works of fiction to date. The Sluts is scheduled for publication by Void Books in December 2004 in a limited edition of 550 numbered and signed copies, with illustrations by Todd James.

From an interview with Cooper at the Void Press Web site:

There’s always been pressure on me from certain quarters to write something more accessible and less troublesome. There’s this whole idea that’s always been floated at me that there are all these critics and publishing big wigs who think I’m a great writer and would jump at the chance to hail me if my work wasn’t so difficult. I don’t buy it for a second, but it’s out there and it’s been a particularly loud wall of sound since I finished the cycle. So The Sluts was the last thing these people wanted, and I happened to write this more accessible novel God Jr., and that’s what people were interested in. So I said, fine, and shelved The Sluts, as I was advised to do. But Void offered me a chance to publish it in a controlled, limited way, and that seemed perfect, and it was acceptable to my agent and publisher.

I read the interview and, you know, I think I could have gotten through my life without knowing what “worming” meant. Anyway, Cooper will be reading from The Sluts on January 13 at the Accompanied Library at the National Arts Club in New York. Go to the Web site above to RSVP.

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