pretty strange and pretty damn cool

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This review is about: The Sluts (Paperback)

Joey Comeau (Toronto) -Dennis Cooper’s  novel, The Sluts, opens with an online review of a hustler named “Brad” who has mental problems. A second review follows, and then a third. The novel is told through these reviews and through emails and posts on a website devoted to reviewing hustlers. The posts by these reviewers mix the empty, repeated, imitative language of pornography with a series of straightforward, honest sounding voices. And they lie.

They lie, and they admit to lying when they think it will help you believe their next lie. The saga of “Brad” on this website gets stranger and stranger and it becomes clear that the reviewers are obsessed. They are writing themselves into the story. We only rarely hear from Brad himself, who might have a brain tumor, who might be fourteen or eighteen or something in between, who might be real. The story that you piece together conflicts with itself and sprawls. He’s in prison. His boyfriend has hired him out for violent sex and a man pays to break his legs during the act. Another man pays to cut his face and murder him. Only, maybe not.

In the end, what’s real is unimportant. This is a novel about the reviewers themselves. It’s about their obsessions and about their ability to live inside their own heads. The sex described is brutal and graphic and unreal and maybe none of it ever happens and maybe some of it does. In any case, The Sluts is good. It’s interesting and perverted and boring and relentless and numbing and I felt like throwing the book across the room a dozen times in anger. This is a frustrating and worthwhile book about voyeurism and fantasy and you are a pervert for even reading a review about it.

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