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Cooper, Dennis (b. 1953)  
 
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Cooper's first published prose work, Antoine Monnier, also appeared in 1978.

Cooper's third poetry collection, Idols, was published in 1979. Three further poetry collections followed: The Tenderness of Wolves (1981); The Missing Men (1981); and He Cried (1985).

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In 1984, Cooper moved to New York City and later that year published his second work of fiction, the novella Safe.

A year later, he moved to Amsterdam, mainly in pursuit of a boyfriend. He lived there for nearly three years before returning to New York.

The George Miles Cycle

While in Amsterdam, Cooper matured as a poet and prose stylist and began work on the novel Closer, which was published in 1989, the first in a sequence of five interconnected books that has become known as the George Miles Cycle. The other novels in the series include Frisk (1991), Try (1994), Guide (1997), and Period (2000).

George Miles, a recurring character in two of the series' five novels, as well as the model for most of the other major young male characters in the cycle, is also the name of an actual person in Cooper's life: his most important and influential friend from high school onwards.

As Cooper explained in an interview: "[Miles] was a few years younger than me, and very sweet and brilliant, but he had a severe chemical imbalance, so he was all over the place; really chaotic and unpredictable. Our relationship was intense and unforgettable, and if I have a muse, it's him."

The two remained extremely close friends, and years later, when Cooper was 30, he and Miles had a brief sexual relationship. Cooper lost contact with Miles, however, after he moved to Amsterdam, and tried tracking him down, but without luck. "In a way," Cooper noted, "I wrote the novels for him, and assumed that somehow, somewhere he was reading them, and knew how important he was to me."

In 1997, Cooper finally learned that Miles had killed himself ten years earlier while Cooper was still living in Europe.

The first novel in the George Miles Cycle, Closer, a chronicle of sexual anomie, won, in 1990, the inaugural Ferro-Grumley Award, which recognizes excellence and experimentation in gay literary fiction.

Frisk, the second and most critically divisive book in the series, with its fetishized scenes of violence and torture, is a vivid account of a man whose fascination with explicit "snuff" photos of young boys leads to a killing spree in Holland.

When the novel was published in 1991, members of the gay activist group Queer Nation denounced Cooper and his works for their glorification of pedophilic sex crimes. In San Francisco a leaflet was distributed, proclaiming that "Dennis Cooper Must Die! Must Die! Must Die!" and suggesting that Cooper himself was guilty of murdering young boys.

Cooper later defended his intentions, saying, "I present the actual act of evil so it's visible and give it a bunch of facets so that you can actually look at it and experience it. You're seduced into dealing with it . . . . So with Frisk, whatever pleasure you got out of making a picture in your mind based on . . . those people being murdered, you take responsibility for it."

A film adaptation of the novel was released in 1995, directed by Todd Verow, with a script by Jim Dwyer, and featuring Craig Chester and Parker Posey. Cooper himself makes a cameo appearance in the film.

Cooper continued to mine his themes of alienated youth and sexual oppression with Try, the story of an angelically beautiful teenage son of two sexually abusive fathers, who finds solace in the home of his uncle, a producer of child pornography. As a review in Publishers Weekly noted, "Cooper's novel is less a case study in sexual abuse . . . than a window on a nightmarish suburban world, where domestic norms are subverted to such a degree that adults are either pointedly absent or predatory pedophiles."

The series' fourth installment, Guide, has come to be considered by many critics Cooper's masterpiece. Cooper places himself as a participant squarely in the center of the story and employs a single, first-person voice, constituting a break from the detached, impassive third-person of his previous narratives. He also adopts, to startling effect, the stylistics of various non-literary genres, such as self-help manuals and substance-abuse rehabilitation pamphlets.

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