Over the years, Dennis Cooper’s blog has become a go-to spot for those who appreciate challenging, bold, experimental literature. Cooper has frequently championed books on indie presses and literary work in small journals, using his own influence to point readers in the direction of other work that they might enjoy. (Many writers I know have been thrilled to have been included in lists of highlights from Cooper’s recent reading.) Over time, the site has gradually become a place where devotees of avant-garde fiction can learn more about what’s new in that particular corner of literature.

You’ll notice, however, that I didn’t link to it in the paragraph above. That’s because, late last month, Google deleted both Cooper’s blog and his Gmail account without providing any advance notice to him. Visiting the URL now brings up an error page stating that the page has been removed, and that “[t]his address is not available for new blogs.”

In a post on his Facebook page, Cooper noted that Google hasn’t been particularly forthcoming about the deletion. “Other than being shown a general ‘violation of our terms of service’ statement, I have been given no explanation for this, and I have not received any response to my questions and complaints thus far,” he wrote on June 28th.

In the weeks since then, Cooper has been updating readers with progress on the case via Facebook. So far, there hasn’t been much change in the situation: as of July 5th, Cooper wrote, “there are now three separate and simultaneous ‘internal investigations’ into the situation going on at Google.” There remains no indication of whether Cooper’s account has been entirely deleted or whether some form of recovery is possible–or, for that matter, of why Google felt the need to delete Cooper’s email account and blog to begin with.

For any writer, the loss of their email address and several years’ worth of online work is huge–the sort of thing that gives many in the literary world uncanny shivers at night. In 2011, The Atlantic‘s James Fallows wrote about his own experiences having his Gmail account reinstated after a hacker deleted its contents; it’s a nerve-wracking account, especially for those of us who don’t have direct and high-ranking contacts at Google, as Fallows does.

The loss of Cooper’s blog is also something that affects the larger literary community. Given that experimental literature is generally not something that’s widely covered in literary sections across the country, a write-up on Cooper’s blog could end up being the highest-profile recommendation a book on a small press might get. Given Cooper’s long-standing history of writing challenging literature, his readership is not exactly small, and his endorsement can make a significant impact on the books that he highlights. Losing that space is another blow against some of the most vital literature out there–and a worrisome reminder than a vital literary community can be only one keystroke away from vanishing.

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  • Marenite

    Well cmon. How can you write this article and skirt around the likely reason, whether or not that reason is legal, real, or valid?

  • Wuhan Slim

    Yeah, like…what happened? What did he do? You don’t even mention what he did. Lame.

    • DragonDon Belmore

      Nope. Lame would be reading the article and somehow missing “Cooper noted that Google hasn’t been particularly forthcoming about the deletion. ” right? smh….

      • Wuhan Slim

        I read that and that just isn’t enough. “Not particularly forthcoming” means they _were_ forthcoming about _something_. What? What is that tiny little bit that he is holding back? And why obfuscate? Why not just share a screen cap of google’s exact response? That’s not so much to ask.

    • Tobias Carroll

      Honestly, that’s one of the things that’s troubling about this: there hasn’t been any information provided by Google about what was problematic.

      • Wuhan Slim

        I searched for “account disabled” and found google’s list of suspicious activities that would get get an account shut down. Mostly shit that would happen if an account gets hacked and looks like it’s spamming and phishing people and shit. Just search yourself, pretty easy to find. Of course they wouldn’t say anything about that as it probably happens every day. Too routine for a statement.

        Basically what I see here is this guy striking a pose as ‘the radical artiste who’s just too out there for the Establishment so the Man had to shut him down! O Persecution! O Censorship!’ But far far more likely he’s just some creepy old perv that got on the wrong porn site and now his account is hacked and Google shut it down so he’s throwing this big prima donna hissy fit and getting all his little cult follower fans in on it. Occam’s Razor. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I don’t give rat’s ass anymore. My curiosity is sated. Fair thee well carousel.

  • sfeldmar

    Never ever every title an article with a question that you do not or can not answer in the article. Come on.

    • sfeldmar

      Oops. Typo there. Sorry.

    • Tobias Carroll

      I’m sorry that you feel that way.

  • While I have HUGE sympathy, and think rather poorly of Google’s – likely automated – high handedness – I also am thinking this is also a cautionary tale. Do NOT trust a massive, relatively faceless, global corporation with your creative work or intellectual property. It lives or dies utterly at their discretion and pleasure. If you read the fine print of your typical TOS, you have NO guarantees, few rights, and often don’t even OWN your own content or copyrights. (Lookin’ at YOU, Facebook… )

    I have long since gotten RELIGION about backing up. There are only two kinds of computer users – those who have lost data, and those who WILL. If all your work only exists online, you are ABSOLUTELY on collision course with that harsh reality.


  • Ben Third

    I’m so upset I read this article. After reading an article informing of the deletion, I see this article and click on it assuming it has an explanation for why the blog was deleted. Unfortunately, it was just corrupt writing procedure and link bait. Not a good way to start developing a viewer base, deceiving them, that is.

    Pretty upset if you got any money from advertisements for tricking me into looking at the article and wasting my time reading it to get no information.

    • Tobias Carroll

      Ben – I’m sorry if you feel that the article was “corrupt.” You may have noted from the date at the top of it that this was posted before several other articles written about the deletion (the ones on Fusion, The Guardian, etc). We don’t have any control over how it shows up in “related article” features on Facebook, etc.

      As for the headline’s formatting, there is a long history of questions used in headlines: i.e. If we’d known the reason Google had deleted Cooper’s blog, we’d have used a headline like “The Reason Google Deleted Dennis Cooper’s Blog.”

  • Tobias Carroll

    Turning comments off for this one, as things are starting to get less than civil here.