I love Dennis Cooperthan his characters love underage rough trade psycopath nymphet boytoys with daddy issues But one thing Dennis Cooper is not is subtle Sophisticated, yes layered with meaning, absolutely but understated, no way In fact, I would argue that his greatest talent is his ability to be the opposite of subtle it s his unrelenting repulsiveness that so powerfully drives his work to ever crueler, evercaptivating heights Which is to say that I hated this book I mean, really The ferocious and brilliant author of the violently enjoyable The Sluts decides to pen a subtle, understated, meandering novel about a subtle, understated, meandering way of speaking, all of it a subtle, understated, meandering pastiche of the limp mid century nouveau roman style Yo, Dennis, Imma let you finish, but Paul Auster is the best Robbe Grillet rip off artist of all time Of all time And guess what, man EVERYONE HATES PAUL AUSTER Listen, I know Cooper s whole shtick is that he fucks with the reader s every last conception, but he fucked this one up in completely the wrong way About 1 3 of the way through this mercifully brief novel the reader learns that if he feels confusion while reading, that is the intended response For me, the issue with this clever conceit is that, while I didn t understand one lick of what was going on,importantly, I also didn t give a flying fuck It was just one empty and lifeless red herring filled set piece after another, peopled with ciphers who made me yawn with boredom as they were disemboweled through their anuses or devoured bite by bite down to their toenails I really hope this is just a one off for Cooper and not a new pathway for his work, knocked out of a side wall like a secret passage in a crumbling chateau I want the old sick and twisted Dennis back, and fast. The Marbled Swarm is a performance of gruesome virtuosity, a blood gilded house of cards that geometrically collapses down to a single card containing the superimposed forms of all that preceded it, at last finding itself reduced, pure and tragic, a simplicity it so desperately attempted to obscure with endless card tricks mysteries within mysteries, horrific acts minutely detailed, the ultimate veneer of language itself attempted to obscure out of nothing so much as failed self preservation instincts.Reading this was a conflicting experience pressing hard along the art trash lines that post modernism has gleefully attempted to erase, this is poetic, artful, densely layered and impeccably refined, yet also often willfully irredeemable and repugnant And I don t say that lightly, I don t shock so easily any Early on, we watch our protagonist s uncomfortable blackly funny attentions towards the young son of an aristocratic family whose supposedly haunted house he hopes to buy But, he assures us, in the beginnings of the direct conversation that composes the entire book, he s not the ordinary predator we suspect It s true, he s much worse, and will show us But even then this isn t any sort of confessions of a monster that it might be As I said, it s a performance, our narrator spinning his complicated sentences in unexpected directions expressly for our amusement, entertainment, and revulsion, assuming our existence to such an extent that readership becomes a dialogue, or a game for two players The utterly unique voice drives the entire text, binds together the dead ends, and incongruities, and eventually even invests the proceedings with unexpected well, to saywould be too much But suffice to say that this narrator is one of the most fascinating I ve encountered If I hadn t just read Island People, there d be nothing close in recent memory, but in some ways these two are complimentary parts of a similar literary genius, hiding itself within its stories, within its very words.You who ve read this far with any care and feel you know me to the point to which you ve been empowered will have gleaned what I would like you to assume I felt when told my recent life had been the colophon of someone else s trail of bread crumbs.Another note many have reflected on the Robbe Grillet ness of parts of this, most obviously the text itself in one of its internal proxies, and in Cooper s direct thanks to Catherine Robbe Grillet, but besides thesurface correspondences the uncertainties, secret rooms, the aestheticized horrors lies, perhaps, a truer similarity Cooper, here, has concerned himself, on one level, with one of the great recurring Alain Robbe Grillet themes the act of writing itself. The rating I ve given may pique interest in this book, but caveats are incredibly necessary If you are someone who needs to identify with the narrator or characters in a novel, do not read this book. If you are a reader who resents being intentionally manipulated by an author, do not read this book. If you are a reader who believes there is not a single thing of value in the works of Marquis de Sade, do not read this book. If you are a reader who cannot tolerate 48 pages of hints, redactions, circumlocutions, and subterfuge, again do not read this book. However if you happen to be a person who fantasizes about raping and killing young boys, or if you are a depressed Emo kid fantasizing about being raped and eaten Hannibal Lecter style, then.umPLEASE read this book rather than act on your inclinations I say that with a shudder that I d contend shakes the very ground, but I also live in Oklahoma If you remain intrepid despite these warnings, you will find a book of fearfully obnoxious utterly awesome, terrifying prose At 48 pages you will be rewarded, if that s the word for a rather dubious honor At the very least, then the title the source of your frustration will be revealed.I d like to be clear, I do not think there is anything wrong with drawing lines with regards to narratives or perspectives you re willing to entertain It is important that people draw these lines For better or worse, I do not draw these kinds of lines, at least not all the time While I m an ethicist IRL, I don t believe art is beholden to morality, and so I sometimes read depraved things and very occasionally I am awed by them.For example, Marquis de Sade awed me at a not quite young, but tender age I was shocked that he could still shock after 200 some odd years I didn t think it possible that I could be shocked given the cultural morass in which I found myself 15 years ago and still do to tell the truth I thought I d seen pretty much all of it I hadn t.If you are unfamiliar with MDS then please turn there first I do not find it accidental that this rapefest of a novel is set in France If you are familiar with MDS and 120 Days of Sodom, Dennis Cooper s The Marbled Swarm is a close, butspectacular to choose as neutral of a word as possible analogue But if you are familiar with 120 Days of Sodom, you also probably know the scroll of the manuscript was lost found during the storming of the Bastille in 1784 You also probably know that the descriptions of the most depraved acts the last month are mere sketches, never completed Cooper s The Marbled Swarm, I believe, intends to flesh those scenes out in the most literal way imaginable.Imagine first, Brett Easton Ellis s Patrick Bateman, but then imagine him without the shitty comical taste in 80s music, and with a predilection for Emo preteens Imagine the debauchest version of a droll Whit Stillman film In other words, imagine that wealth is maximally unapologetically corrupting Imagine that you believed didn t in the ancient correspondence theory of truth whereby the existence of a thing perhaps a lurid carnivorous inner yearning is enough to make it real, or as imaginatively vivid fucked up as it must necessarily be to approximate your absolutely darkest and most perverse desires To expose also purge them through the glaring exposure That s The Marbled Swarm P.S If you are neither a Sadist nor an Emo preteen, you are still interested in reading this novel, I advise you to set aside a day so as to spend as little time in this world as possible In the interest of full utterly disturbing disclosure, I began this review whilst still reading and I chose the Imagine trope without knowing that it would eventually surface in the novel s repertoire of devices to lure the reader. A very beautifully layered novel that one can almost taste the narrative Considering it deals with cannibalism among other things this may not be your type of flavor but it is an essential read by one of the great English language writers alive What strikes me about the novel for me personally is the jaded aristocratic voice that runs through it All of Dennis Cooper s novels have a strong visual sense and usually with the minimal language The Marbled Swarm is different because the text is so dense and beautifully spread out that its just a joy to go over the sentences over and over again It has its own music, and the images that come from the music is both funny and highly poetic.A lot of people will probably react to the violence and sex, but to me in the hands of M Cooper its a beautiful instrument that plays a haunting melody In about six months i am going to re read this book not only for the pleasure of the text, but also to dig into the narrative that is as twisted as the secret tunnels that are featured in this novel. Chasing the intriguing mystery story plot as it reflects down and back a hallway of mirrors may set you up for a slight feeling of disappointment on the last page, but this book isn t actually quite done with you yet, and there s much fun to be had arranging and processing this books many vivid symbols with the benefit of hindsight Even if the repulsive brutality sours you on prolonging your exposure to the marbled swarm, I d still say this narrator s voice alone is kind of unmissable It s like virtuoso power metal inways than one I also found that this guy pairs nicely with instrumental obvs Coil, particularly Time Machines The Remote Viewer. i have never read anything like this before one of my favorite novels. The Marbled Swarm Is Dennis Cooper S Most Haunting Work To Date In Secret Passageways, Hidden Rooms, And The Troubled Mind Of Our Narrator, A Mystery Perpetually Takes Shape And The Most Compelling Clue To Its Final Nature Is The Marbled Swarm Itself, A Complex Amalgam Of Language Passed Down From Father To SonCooper Ensnares The Reader In A World Of Appearances, Where The Trappings Of High Art, Old Money, And Haute Cuisine Obscure An Unspeakable System Of Coercion And Surrender And As The Narrator Stalks An Elusive Truth, Traveling From The French Countryside To Paris And Back Again, The Reader Will Be Seduced By A Voice Only Dennis Cooper Could Create To distill this review into one sentence, I suppose I could write Lolita and David Lynch have a baby in the dungeon of a chateau, who grows up being filmed by his father, who hides with his camera behind fake walls that contain secret rooms and tunnels that eventually lead the boy to deviant cannibalism and and a gift for unwielding long stories within stories attached to houses within houses, which he narrates to a mirror with us on the other side. I just bought Dennis Cooper s Closer on my Kindle and I am already terrified that someone is going to look at my Kindle and start reading it and see that it is not only pornographic, but pornographic in the most disturbing sense possible I am fully convinced that e Readers were invented for the sole purpose of being able to hide all your erotica from your friends.Dennis Cooper scares me, yet The Marbled Swarm was still one of the most interesting novels I ve read this year The Marbled Swarm refers to the narrator s manner of speaking It s a style that is both intricate and convoluted, but the most interesting thing about this Marbled Swarm is how it is also reflected in the plot itself the plot continually stops, regresses, or goes off on a permanent tangent The language is formal, and this formality is represented by a stunning lack of emotion in the narrator Cannibalism, incest, rape, and abuse are revisited again and again as the plot circles around and around, attempting to avoid the whole point of the novel entirely The events are terrifying and, in some ways, darkly funny Yet it is an emotionless journey for the narrator, until the time comes when the heart of the novel cannot be avoided any longer.In short, it s The Story of the Eye for the 21st century Which I had no problem sharing with all my friends I was too enthralled by my own deviousness This novel is hard to simplify and dismiss it as a gross out novel, because there is some real pain here Cooper is too intelligent to let himself be reduced so easily I don t want to call it a masterwork, but it s damn brilliant. Since this won t be released for a while, I don t want to say too much Some quick thoughts I m a huge admirer of Dennis Cooper s work and The Marbled Swarm strikes me as a genuine masterpiece Set in Parisian warehouse apartments and country chateaus, the novel is riddled with secret passages, doubles, cannibalism, and peepholes that reveal bothand less than they appear Its labyrinthine structure is worthy of Robbe Grillet and the puppetmaster narrator is an equal of Pale Fire s Kinbote in terms of his corrosive wit and disturbing half revelations The sentences themselves are also exquisitely wrought, each one seeming to simultaneously expose and obscure some element of the narrative This is Cooper s most baroque and demanding book If you re new to his novels, I d recommend reading My Loose Thread and or God Jr before tackling this Some goodwill and patience may be required to fully appreciate a novel that reshuffles itself with each chapter and delays its emotional wallop until the very last sentences It s also a book that gives up its mysteries slowly and I look forward to reading it again before the year s out.