Wrong: A Critical Biography of Dennis Cooper


Wrong: A Critical Biography of Dennis Cooper



University of Iowa Press

publication year



This is the first book-length study of the queer American writer and artist, Dennis Cooper (b. 1952), which explores his remarkable career from the 1970s to the present. Employing archival research along with interviews and close readings of his often-controversial work, it explores Cooper's various incarnations - punk poet, cult novelist, avant-garde playwright, queercore film director - situating him in relation to a number of underground American art, writing, and music scenes that have recently attracted renewed critical interest. Its primary aim is to establish Cooper's reputation as a leading figure of the American post-War avant-garde. Mr. Cooper has offered the project his full cooperation and has agreed to a substantial interview that will conclude the text. The principal argument advanced by the book is that we take seriously Cooper's assertion that he is an anarchist writer. While relatively skeptical of many of the labels that have been applied to him over the years (e.g. "gay poet," "transgressive writer," "blank novelist"), in interviews Cooper has readily acknowledged that he is an anarchist and that anarchist principles underpin his life and work. Hester pursues this idea across his oeuvre. What makes an anarchist writer in the American century? In what ways is a commitment to the radical politics of anarchism palpable in Cooper's work? How is this commitment born out in his life beyond the text? Irving Howe once wrote that a "powerful subterranean current" of anarchism runs through American literature - this book considers Dennis Cooper's life and work as a startling contemporary eruption of this longstanding and underappreciated tradition.

education level





Katie Arthur

was created by

Hester, Diarmuid

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