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Paperback / ISBN-13: 9781399715072

Price: £10.99

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‘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

Pablo Picasso beat his partners. Richard Wagner was deeply antisemitic. David Bowie slept with an underage fan. But many of us still love Guernica and the Ring cycle and Ziggy Stardust.

And what are we to do with that love? How are we, as fans, to reckon with the biographical choices of the artists whose work sustains us?

Wildly smart and insightful, Monsters is an exhilarating attempt to understand our relationship with art and the artist in the twenty-first century.

‘An incredible book, the best work of criticism I have read in a very long time‘ NICK HORNBY

‘Part memoir, part treatise, and all treat’ New York Times

‘Clever and provocative’ Daily Telegraph


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
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 <i>Also a Poet</i>
Bringing erudition, emotion, and a down-to-earth style to this pressing problem, Dederer presents her finest work to date
Kirkus Reviews
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
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
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
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 <i>Vladimir</i>
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 <i>Alison</i>
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
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 <i>Unsettled Ground</i>
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 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
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
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
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
She asks important questions . . . Subtle and adroit
The Atlantic
[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
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
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
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
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
Despite the heavy subject matter, Monsters is neither rant nor sermon. Dederer is not only an incisive researcher and writer, she's also conversational, approachable and funny . . . Monsters is a worthy addition to contemporary literary criticism, but more than that, it's a very enjoyable book about a thorny, elusive subject
Profoundly cathartic. The book feels simultaneously like having the deepest, artiest conversation with the smartest people you know and like having an intense shit-talking session with your closest friends
An exciting read . . . I was shaken to my core
Los Angeles Times
Excellent. Erudite and unpretentious, ruthlessly honest, a searching self portrait as well as moral inventory of good artists doing bad things
Stephanie Danler, author of <i>Sweetbitter</i>
Enthralling, challenging and downright unsettling . . . smart and provocative . . . Monsters is a vital book for our times, and it offers so much rich food for thought
Martin Chilton, Independent
Spectacular . . . A work of pop-culture criticism that's fun to read, Monsters will for sure help us have deeper conversations around the perennial question of whether it's possible and OK to separate the work from the art and what it really means to be a fan. This is a book we plan to return to again and again - and to press on all our friends
A hot and urgent monologue structured around a problem without a solution . . . The conclusion to this immersive and doubtlessly important book is both tentative and bold
Frances Wilson, Times Literary Supplement
Perceptive and engaging
Humming with originality, clarity and humour . . . The book's questions might be zeitgeisty, but it is far more satisfying than the circular arguments about cancel culture that abound in Twitter threads. It sketches a Venn diagram of creativity and depravity before plunging into its intersection - dangerous water, but one I emerged from reinvigorated . . .
i News
Sane and nuanced - even refreshingly brave. This is no dry compendium of intellectual arguments about artistic meaning, but rather an emotional journey through audience experience told with engaging chattiness from an insider's perspective
Kathleen Stock, The Times
A lively, personal exploration of how one might think about the art of those who do bad things . . . It's such a pleasure to stretch out in a big, nuanced conversation about a topic that can be so easily flattened into wrong and right, good and bad; it's a pleasure to be asked to think
Vanity Fair
I flat-out admire her book and want to share it with my students. As a thinker, Dederer is smart, informed, nuanced and very funny
Maureen Corrigan, NPR Fresh Air
While Dederer sets out to write about the art of monsters, she ended up writing about what it means to be human
Camille Sojit Pejcha, Document Journal
What a treat it is: funny, lively and convivial, constantly in argument with itself . . . Dederer's tone and willingness to be wrong and confused, along with her seductive, intimate style, bring the subject to new life . . . how rare and nourishing this sort of roaming thought is and what a joy to read. How moving, too, the underpinning adoration that allows the difficult questions to be asked. You are left wishing Dederer would apply her generous mind to every other niggling unfinished hang-up that haunts our culture
Megan Nolan, Sunday Times
Sharp and unflinching . . . In Monsters, Dederer produces an entirely original and self-aware contemplation on the psychological reverberations of living in a biographical age
Kathryn Hughes, Guardian
Nuanced and exploratory . . . With verve and empathy, she asks if we can - if we should - separate the work from the biography
Suzanne Harrington, Irish Independent
Excellent . . . Frank . . . A work of deep thought and self-scrutiny that honors the impossibility of the book's mission
Melissa Febos, The New Yorker
In this book you may not find the answer, but you will find heaps of wit and wisdom - on monsters, victims, hate, love, and the big grey area in between
Chloë Ashby, Spectator
An incredibly nuanced and human work
Barry Pierce, Big Issue
Susie Goldsbrough, The Times
Monsters is both a nimble exploration of fan culture and a spirited call to action
Ruth Madievsky, GQ
Monsters is a good companion, working away at the problem from various perspectives, always explaining patiently what it is trying to do and keeping it interesting by participating more energetically than just steepling the fingers
Strong Words
Clever and provocative
Daily Telegraph
Dederer's exploration offers up no easy answers, but the journey is never less than illuminating
Summer holiday reads, Guardian
Personal, open-hearted and intellectually playful
50 of this year's best non-fiction books, The Times
Dederer asks, with witty self-deprecation, how we should respond to art from artists guilty of morally squalid deeds . . . Instead of rushing to the barricades of ongoing culture wars, Dederer offers - and enacts - a way of thinking that acknowledges the ever growing diversity of intellectual and moral life
Pankaj Mishra, summer reads, Guardian
A timely interrogation of the eternal question: can you separate the art from the artist? It showed me my bookshelves, my record collection, the pictures and films I love - even myself - in a new, unflinching light. I'm pressing it into the hands of everyone I know.
Erin Kelly, author of The Skeleton Key
Smart and engaging, never dogmatic or pious, I loved this.
David Nicholls
Witty and conversational . . . It's a book full of the nuance that the cancel culture debate so often lacks
*Books of the Year*, The Times
Monsters is extraordinary - engaging, enraging, provocative, and brilliant. It's like a long conversation with your smartest friend. I am buying this book for everyone I know
Ann Patchett, author of <i>Tom Lake</i>