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The Marbled Swarm by Dennis Cooper

The Marbled Swarm

by Dennis Cooper

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First I was like, "Awesome! He's written a comedy!" but then I was like, "Oh shit, he's written his own version of a Story of the Eye." and I hate the Story of the Eye! BUT. maybe. maybe this is the punchline. Maybe it is some sort of comment/joke on True Art Is Incomprehensible yes?

God, I hope so. I don't want to have spent all that time being like, "nononono, he's not like that!" and then this. which is exactly like that. ( )
  Joanna.Oyzon | Apr 17, 2018 |
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....um...PLEASE read this book rather than act on your inclinations. I say that with a shudder that I’d contend shakes the very ground.

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, but more spectacular (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. ( )
  reganrule | Mar 1, 2016 |
This book is just a long literary excuse to write about pedophilla, necrophilla, incest, and cannibalism. There is no real story in this book.

It's just one rich-ass nancy-boy of a narrator's account of the comings and goings of various relatives, groundskeepers, housekeepers, and whoever else may have passed by this strange chateau. And this house of torture just happens to have secret passages in the walls, where perverts can hang out and jack off. Like you do.

Then, there's the constant murmurings of incest, rape, and torture that usually ends in the corpse being banged some more, then eaten in some lavish banquet. You know, typical rich people stuff. I'm sure Bill Gates does shit like this all the time.

Oh, and did I mention that for some reason everyone is gay? Oh yea. Not like flaming gay. Well, except the narrator. He's a flaming faggot if I ever heard of one. I mean his narrative is written like its the 1700's or something. Like hes just such a fancy faggot that he has to talk like some goddamn slave owner. And then in the next sentence he's sending a text to someone, going on about the cute little slave boy he's just purchased.

Now, I'm not gay bashing at all, mind you. Go ahead, be a faggot. Everyone loves a cocksucker. I know, I do. But I'm just saying, how does being such a goddamn faggot add to this story? It doesn't. Probably because there is no goddamn story. ( )
  gecizzle | Mar 5, 2015 |
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. ( )
  danlai | Sep 1, 2014 |
Cooper is working his usual dark magic, here, but in a new form. Normally something of a minimalist, here he attempts to reverse that trend. In fact, you might think of the titular "Marbled Swarm" as a 180 degree rotation from what Nabokov did with "Lolita"--an attempt to cover a central truth with convoluted sentence work and dense plot layers (some leading nowhere) like a honeycomb covered in bees. It's genius that only he could create. A word of warning, though: as I've said before, this is dark, dark magic--not for the faint of heart. But if you want to see an artist who is truly unafraid to dance on the edge (as trite as that sounds), then Cooper is your guy, and this novel is an absolute masterwork. ( )
  JWarren42 | Oct 10, 2013 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0061715638, Paperback)

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 son.

Cooper 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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:11:15 -0400)

The literary cult hero's latest novel takes readers into the mysterious world of a father who raises his son in secret and, keeping him isolated from outside influences, teaches him a special language that only the two of them will know.

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