Following on from the stunning conclusion to his five-book cycle that was Period, Dennis Cooper reemerges with arguably his finest and most thought-provoking piece of writing. At the heart of the work is Larry, a teenager wrestling not only with his sexuality and the implications of a physical relationship with his younger brother but with the purpose and the reason to his existence. He is numb. Dead. Expression cannot contain reality. Yet ... As the book opens, Larry has been paid $500 by a senior high school student to kill a fellow pupil and retrieve the boy’s notebook. It seems simple enough. However, once Larry ventures into the notebook, complications arise. Struck at once by both the beauty of articulation and the horror of its content, Larry longs for such an ability to communicate but feels powerless: is there a place for sincerity or concern, or indeed love? ‘My Loose Thread’ may share the anarchic sensibility of Cooper’s earlier works but this is a new Cooper. The writing is sparse, concise yet open, the consequence being that the reader falls into this world and is surrounded, submerged, and potentially overwhelmed by the text. This is a claustrophobic read and a harrowing piece of fiction that is all the more so for the gracefulness of the language. (‘My Loose Thread’, by Dennis Cooper, Canongate Books, 121 pages)— Agencies