Once I started this book, I couldn’t put it down. Claire Dederer aptly asks questions and ruminates on separating the art from the artist (or monster) from many different angles. I especially loved the exploration of what it means to be a fan and caught up in parasocial relationships. Between clever analysis and examination, there are beautiful moments of memoir and glimpses of life in the Pacific Northwest.
–Torrin Nelson, Queen Anne Book Company, Seattle, WA
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Claire Dederer discusses thoughts and yes, feelings, I’ve grappled with. I have learned so much and learned how much more that I don’t know. The heart loves…
–Melanie Chun, The Well-Read Moose, Coeur d’Alene, ID
Here, the antidote to the constant stream of clickbait headlines about cancel culture we live with, and the feeling you get scrolling through. I sank into this complex work like you can only do with great essays, memoir, criticism, and theory, because you can only do so when the writer invites you—with vulnerability and generosity—to think with them, not just to watch them think. Truly incredible!
–Emmy Newman, Third Place Books, Seattle, WA
*guy who this book is dedicated to voice* it’s alright if you’re into this sort of thing / in all sincerity, having my name on this is one of the great honors of my life. It’s a good one!
–Lou Barcott, Third Place Books, Seattle, WA
An unpretentious, deeply engaged and thoughtful book about how “we” (the fans) have struggled with the work of monstrous artists—filmmakers, painters, writers, critics. Dederer adds to the discourse, much of which has occurred online, and solidifies many of the good and nuanced opinions founded since the start of #MeToo. What I loved most about Dederer’s approach is that it’s not prescriptive. It’s about those of us who love the work, and feel devastated, betrayed, saddened by the horrible acts of the artist. In one of her more stunning lines, that I would like to have printed and framed: “The way you consume art doesn’t make you a bad person, or a good one. You’ll have to find some other way to accomplish that.” (There are many such lines; I can highly recommend)
— Spencer Ruchti, Third Place Books, Seattle, WA
In the introduction to Monsters Claire Dederer recollects an adage from poet William Emerson, “life involves maintaining oneself between contradictions that can’t be solved by analysis.” Dederer wants to know what to do with bad behavior — monstrous behavior — and good — even excellent — art. Can the audience think themself out of that contradiction? Can they feel their way out? Do they just have to sit there… maintaining? What do we (you, I) do with the personal feelings of betrayal? What about the amplified echoes of collective outrage? I can imagine no finer voice to walk through this contradiction alongside. In Monsters, Dederer is insightful, passionate, funny, made me cry (multiple times), and somehow managed re-enliven the conversation about separating artist and art into something fresh and vital.
–Sarah Reif, Powell’s Books, Portland, OR
I am so grateful for Claire Dederer’s utterly engrossing and courageously unflinching deep dive into the question of how/can/should we reconcile great art made by horrible people. It is a refreshingly non-prescriptive take that also lets no one off the hook (including herself). A brilliant blend of memoir and criticism.
–Robert Sindelar, Third Place Books, Seattle, WA
Readers in our region still have time to plan to attend one of Claire Dederer’s events:
MAY 8: POWELLS BOOKS, PORTLAND
Monday, May 8, 7pm PST, Powell’s Cedar Hill Crossing, Portland.
MAY 15: THIRD PLACE BOOKS SEWARD PARK
Monday, May 15, 7pm PST, Third Place Books Seward Park, Seattle.
MAY 16: EAGLE HARBOR BOOK CO.
Tuesday, May 16, 6:30pm PST, Eagle Harbor Book Co., Bainbridge Island WA.