Wrong: A Critical Biography of Dennis Cooper

Dennis Cooper is one of the most inventive and prolific artists of our time. Working in a variety of forms and media since he first exploded onto the scene in the early 1970s, he has been a punk poet, a queercore novelist, a transgressive blogger, an indie filmmaker—each successive incarnation more ingenious and surprising than the last. Cooper’s unflinching determination to probe the obscure, often violent recesses of the human psyche have seen him compared with literary outlaws like Rimbaud, Genet, and the Marquis de Sade.

In this, the first book-length study of Cooper’s life and work, Diarmuid Hester shows that such comparisons hardly scratch the surface. A lively retrospective appraisal of Cooper’s fifty-year career, Wrong tracks the emergence of Cooper’s singular style alongside his participation in a number of American subcultural movements like New York School poetry, punk rock, and radical queercore music and zines. Using extensive archival research, close readings of texts, and new interviews with Cooper and his contemporaries, Hester weaves a complex and often thrilling biographical narrative that attests to Cooper’s status as a leading figure of the American post­–War avant-garde.