NATIONAL BESTSELLER A NEW YORK TIMES MOST ANTICIPATED BOOK A timely, passionate, provocative, blisteringly smart interrogation of how we make and experience art in the age of cancel culture, and of the link between genius and monstrosity. Can we love the work of controversial classic and contemporary artists but dislike the artist?
"A lively, personal exploration of how one might think about the art of those who do bad things" —Vanity Fair
“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." —The Washington Post
"[Dederer] breaks new ground, making a complex cultural conversation feel brand new." —Ada Calhoun, author of Also a Poet
From the author of the New York Times best seller Poser and the acclaimed memoir Love and Trouble, Monsters is “part memoir, part treatise, and all treat” (The New York Times). This unflinching, deeply personal book expands on Claire Dederer’s instantly viral Paris Review essay, "What Do We Do with the Art of Monstrous Men?"
Can we love the work of artists such as Hemingway, Sylvia Plath, Miles Davis, Polanski, or Picasso? Should we? Dederer explores the audience's relationship with artists from Michael Jackson to Virginia Woolf, asking: How do we balance our undeniable sense of moral outrage with our equally undeniable love of the work? Is male monstrosity the same as female monstrosity? And if an artist is also a mother, does one identity inexorably, and fatally, interrupt the other? In a more troubling vein, she wonders if an artist needs to be a monster in order to create something great. Does genius deserve special dispensation? Does art have a mandate to depict the darker elements of the psyche? And what happens if the artist stares too long into the abyss?
Highly topical, morally wise, honest to the core, Monsters is certain to incite a conversation about whether and how we can separate artists from their art.