Our ReviewsMonsters, A Fan’s Dilemma by Claire Dederera

Monsters, A Fan’s Dilemma by Claire Dederera


It is a horrific indictment that we will all recognise this experience. One day you are enjoying the art of a beloved creator, the next you are repelled by it having read the testimony of a victim. With the propulsion of #metoo & ever changing morality, with the baring of our souls online meaning that those in the public eye inevitably worry that the one misogynistic, transphobic, racist tweet will be uncovered and their career over, this is a contemporary issue faced by our generation like no other before us. 

What do we do with what the Monsters have left behind? What happens when the allegations are unproven before a court, when the deplorable views we can (somehow) justify as a product of the time the artist was raised? There is a killer line on antisemitism that made me bark inelegantly with laughter, swipe to see.

Out this week, the book is less an answer to the above questions & more a conversation with a deeply thoughtful literary critic who turns the debate around from a multitude of angles. She looks at the historical figures we as a society accept with all their failings, Picasso, Hemingway, Wagner etc. What does it say when a presidential candidate is captured saying something so insidious about the assault of women & continues to be elected leader of the free world? Would Lolita be published today?

Monsters expands on a viral essay published in 2017, & I found it a fascinating exploration of a much wider question about what we do when the people we love are not good people. She dissects the fan, the audience with real perception, how we raise celebrities on a pedestal to ridiculous heights.

At times the chapters veer off into tangents, she considers what monstrous women look like, the difficulty to create & be mothers, which related to the overarching question but became very self reflective, almost a blend of memoir, philosophy & social criticism. 

What is the resolution? Dederer doesn’t provide a forceful conclusion, ultimately this is a subjective assessment bound by the inherent perception & experience of the “fan”. A thought provoking read on a highly contemporary topic. C

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