At first glance Dennis Coopers collection of essays, interviews
and obituaries is an exercise in pop cultural criticism with little more
than the usual cast of disappointing media icons. But the book also registers
an interesting tension. There is a striking emotional drive underlying
the most substantial sections: the obituaries for Phoenix, Cobain, and
Flanagan, the pieces on Nan Goldin, UCLA, and the Aids epidemic. The emotion
is fear, and the presence of this element almost everywhere in Coopers
observations brings something unique and honest to the collection. The
essays are comprised of anxious children in their twenties, full of awe
and confusion before a strange world whose origins seem to be unknown.
Anxiety and fear are the common denominators, and death is everywhere.
It becomes a distinctively woeful book when the journalists attention
turns from vapid interviews with Keanu or Courtney. An essentially romantic
sorrow sets the tone for Coopers observations, whether in Nan Goldins
photography as a means to assuage loss, junkies who rely on their addiction
to protect them from a "scary" world, or beauty torn asunder
in the persons of Cobain and Phoenix who "seemed to distill a confused
melancholy of an emerging generation." This voice reaches its summation
in the obituary for Cobain.