‘Funny, lively and convivial… how rare and nourishing this sort of roaming thought is and what a joy to read’ MEGAN NOLAN, SUNDAY TIMES
‘An exhilarating, shape-shifting exploration of the perilous boundaries between art and life’ JENNY OFFILL
A passionate, provocative and blisteringly smart interrogation of how we experience art in the age of #MeToo, and whether we can separate an artist’s work from their biography.
What do we do with the art of monstrous men? Can we love the work of Roman Polanski and Michael Jackson, Hemingway and Picasso? Should we love it? Does genius deserve special dispensation? What makes women artists monstrous? And what should we do with beauty, and with our unruly feelings about it?
Claire Dederer explores these questions and our relationships with the artists whose behaviour disrupts our ability to understand the work on its own terms. She interrogates her own responses and behaviour, and she pushes the fan, and the reader, to do the same. Morally wise, deeply considered and sharply written, Monsters gets to the heart of one of our most pressing conversations.
‘A blisteringly erudite and entertaining read . . . It’s a book that deserves to be widely read and will provoke many conversations’ NATHAN FILER
‘Wise and bold and full of the kind of gravitas that might even rub off’ LISA TADDEO
‘An incredible book, the best work of criticism I have read in a very long time’ NICK HORNBY
Monsters is an incredible book, the best work of criticism I have read in a very long time. It's thrillingly sharp, appropriately doubtful, and more fun than you would believe, given the pressing seriousness of the subject matter. Claire Dederer's mind is a wonder, her erudition too; I now want her to apply them to everything I'm interested in so I can think about them differently -- Nick Hornby Part memoir, part treatise, and all treat . . . nimble, witty . . . her exquisitely reasoned vindication of Lolita brought tears to my eyes . . . This is a book that looks boldly down the cliff of roiling waters below and jumps right in, splashes around playfully, isn't afraid to get wet. How refreshing * New York Times * In a world that wants you to think less - that wants, in fact, to do your thinking for you - Monsters is that rare work, beyond a book, that reminds you of your sentience. It's wise and bold and full of the kind of gravitas that might even rub off -- Lisa Taddeo A properly honest and passionate book that will help set this debate alive -- Andrew Marr * New Statesman * Monsters is a dazzling book . . . If you too love the work of Polanski - or Picasso, Hemingway, Allen, Davis, and so on - sticking with Dederer on her curlicued journey might be the best gift you can give yourself. The final chapter feels its way toward a conclusion that burns clean, though it hurts a little too -- Stephanie Zacharek * Time * Vital, exhilarating . . . Although Dederer has done her homework, her style is breezy and confessional . . . Monsters leaves us with Dederer's passionate commitment to the artists whose work most matters to her, and a framework to address these questions about the artists who matter most to us * Washington Post * An exhilarating, shape-shifting exploration of the perilous boundaries between art and life. This timely book inhabits both the marvellous and the monstrous with generosity and wit -- Jenny Offill A blisteringly erudite and entertaining read. Dederer holds the moral ambiguity of her subject matter, landing her arguments with precision and flair. It's a book that deserves to be widely read and will provoke many conversations -- Nathan Filer Dederer provides a fascinating new way of looking at how the work and lives of problematic artists are bound together. She poses so many topical questions, plays with so many pertinent ideas, that I'm still thinking about this book long after I finished -- Claire Fuller, author of Unsettled Ground Conversational, clear and bold without being strident . . . Dederer showcases her critical acumen . . . In this age of moral policing, Ms. Dederer's instincts to approach such material with an open mind - and heart - are laudable * Wall Street Journal * An invigorating, engrossing, and deeply intelligent book. By guiding us through her critical dilemmas, Dederer performs an act of generosity: she allows the reader the space and encouragement to interrogate their own beliefs. Monsters made me laugh, argue, tear up, and most importantly, think -- Julia May Jonas, author of Vladimir Punchy and sharp . . . Exploring her own relationship to art made by shitty men, the book moves beyond tedious cancel culture discourse to interrogate ethics, art and fandom with nuance and compassion -- Katie Goh, Books to be excited for in 2023 * i-D * The book is tangled and fascinating, chasing down arguments and questions that can't always be easily resolved. Dederer's shrewd, vivid descriptions of movies and books suggest just how much they mean to her and how deeply any sacrifices on the altar of contemporary sexual ethics might cut * Slate * [Dederer] just keeps getting better and smarter . . . it's absolutely exhilarating to read the work of someone so willing to crumple up her own argument like a piece of paper, throw it away and start anew. She's constantly challenging her own assumptions, more than willing to find flaws in her own thinking * San Francisco Chronicle * The rare polemic that's full of greedy love for the good stuff in this world, Monsters is an expansion of Dederer's instant classic Paris Review essay from 2017, 'What Do We Do with the Art of Monstrous Men.' With a larger canvas, she lets both her cast of monsters and our culpability grow, and manages to one-up herself over and over again. Cooly pensive on an overheated subject, Dederer writes powerfully about art's ability to move us, teach us, and entrap us * Bustle * Monsters is like having the best version of the "good art by bad people" conversation. Dederer writes like your wisest, most compassionate friend, helping to guide you to your own thoughts and generously offering her own. I loved it -- Lizzy Stewart, author of Alison Slyly funny, emotionally honest, and full of raw passion, Claire Dederer's important book about what to do when artists you love do things you hate breaks new ground, making a complex cultural conversation feel brand new. Monsters elegantly takes on far more than 'cancel culture' - it offers new insights into love, ambition, and what it means to be an artist, a citizen, and a human being -- Ada Calhoun, author of Also a Poet Dauntless, cannily reasoned and barn-burning . . . Monsters isn't just the book that art-loving feminists have been waiting for; it's the book that anyone determined to live an intentional life owes it to themselves to read * Shelf-Awareness * Nuanced and incisive . . . Dederer's candid appraisal of her own relationship with troubling artists and the lucidity with which she explores what it means to love their work open fresh ways of thinking about problematic artists. Contemplative and willing to tackle the hard questions head on, this pulls no punches * Publishers Weekly * Bringing erudition, emotion, and a down-to-earth style to this pressing problem, Dederer presents her finest work to date * Kirkus Reviews * Monsters has crystalline intellectual force . . . Dederer has fashioned a book of depth and candor about what it is to be heartbroken by an artist whose work we also happen to love . . . So on point is Monsters: A Fan's Dilemma about the historical moment in which we currently find ourselves, you want to carry it around with you and whip it out at every bar or dinner party -- Tom Shone * Avenue Magazine * She asks important questions . . . Subtle and adroit * The Atlantic *
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