Bernard Cooper

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 Story, Ploughshares, Harper’s, The Paris Review, 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).  He is completing a collection of essays entitled My Avant Garde Education due to be published in 2015.

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 and at the UCLA Writer’s Program. He is currently a core faculty member in the MFA Writing Program at Bennington College and also teaches in the Masters of Professional Writing program at USC. In 2014 he will be the Distinguished Visiting Writer at The University of Iowa.

"“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
Bernard Cooper©Blake Little