Award-winning Memoirist, Novelist, and Short Story Writer
With his razor-sharp wit and unsparing honesty, Bernard Cooper peels back layers of the familiar, exposing the surprising truths that shape our lives. Cooper’s prose is resonant and exquisitely crafted. Often described as a “writer’s writer,” his disarming memoirs and fiction and his open-hearted, humorous readings and lectures have won him a loyal audience. Growing up gay in the Los Angeles of the 1950s and 60s, sexuality, familial relationships, loss, and AIDS — these are among Bernard Cooper’s primary subjects. Through them all, he expresses his deepest concern: how the writer explores identity and human nature by traveling the terrain of memory. Recalling details with delicacy and inventiveness, Cooper’s sensibility ultimately transforms the way we examine our own lives.
Bernard Cooper has written two collections of memoirs, Maps to Anywhere and Truth Serum, as well as a novel, A Year of Rhymes, and a collection of short stories, Guess Again. His work has appeared in Granta, Story, Ploughshares, Harper’s, The Paris Review, and The New York Times Magazine. His work has been included in five volumes of The Best American Essays, and in anthologies such as The Oxford Book of Literature on Aging, and the Library of America’s Writing Los Angeles. He is the author of The Bill From My Father: A Memoir (paperback 2007). His new collection of essays is entitled My Avant-Garde Education: A Memoir (Winter / 2015). In February 2015, Miami-Dade College Museum of Art and Design presented an exhibit of Bernard Cooper’s digital montages.
Bernard Cooper has won numerous awards and prizes, among them the PEN/Ernest Hemingway Award, an O. Henry Prize, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. His work has been read on This American Life and Selected Shorts from Symphonyspace. For many years, Bernard Cooper was the art critic for Los Angeles Magazine. He has taught at Antioch/Los Angeles, for the Masters of Professional Writing program at USC, and at the UCLA Writer’s Program. He has been a core faculty member in the MFA Writing Program at Bennington College. In 2014 he was appointed the Distinguished Visiting Writer at The University of Iowa.
"The paradox of making something from nothing, of threading the maze of reality, is finely illuminated in this honest, articulate and moving memoir. Through his search for the avant-garde, Bernard Cooper found something rarer, a wisdom grounded in humility before unanswerable questions. In doing so, he has achieved a combination of ‘Beauty plus pity,’ Nabokov's definition of art."— Phillip Lopate, about My Avant-Garde Education
"Cooper...has a voice that is fluid and engaging."— The New York Times Book Review
"Reading Cooper is like reading Chekhov, he’s really that good."—Tony Kushner
"Cooper’s love for his characters is evident in their self-deprecating humor and the poetic imagery of his writing."— Publishers Weekly