WITH HIS FIFTH novel, Period, Dennis Cooper chalks up the kind of body count more commonly found in The Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report--with even less human emotion. The young, male characters in this author's shadow world are as interchangeable and disposable as pet-store goldfish. Dagger is strangled in a pool of piss. The nameless wayfarer bleeds from the jugular. EgoreG loses his bowels to a blade, then has his organs pummeled with a broken-off chair leg. Compared to Cooper, the Marquis de Sade seems as gentle as Harry Potter--or Beatrix Potter, for that matter.
The plot that connects these empty interludes is a series of interlocking sexual fantasies, a literary snuff film scripted by Borges. Leon and Nate, the meth-fueled country boys who kill Dagger, are also characters in a cult novel that has spawned a murderous goth band, the Omen, who themselves are shooting home videos of the boys they sodomize and torture on tour...including Nate. Throw in a Web site about all these folks, an outsider artist, and a late-night call-in show, and you've got a metafictional Möbius strip--a sadistic fictional realm with no beginning and no end.