Claire Dederer with Kristi Coulter — 'Monsters: A Fan's Dilemma'

A passionate, provocative, blisteringly smart interrogation of how we make and experience art in the age of #MeToo, and of the link between genius and monstrosity.


Third Place Books is absolutely thrilled to welcome local memoirist and essayist Claire Dederer—author of the New York Times bestseller Poser and the acclaimed memoir Love and Trouble—for a discussion of her new book, Monsters: A Fan's Dilemma, an expansion on her popular Paris Review essay, "What Do We Do with the Art of Monstrous Men?" She will be joined in conversation by memoirist Kristi Coulter. 

Robert Sindelar, Managing Partner of Third Place Books, writes, "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."

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About Monsters. . .

From the author of the New York Times best seller Poser and the acclaimed memoir Love and Trouble

“Thrillingly sharp, appropriately doubtful, and more fun than you would believe, given the pressing seriousness of the subject matter.” —Nick Hornby, author of High Fidelity

In this unflinching, deeply personal book that expands on her instantly viral Paris Review essay, "What Do We Do with the Art of Monstrous Men?" Claire Dederer asks: Can we love the work of Hemingway, Polanski, Naipaul, Miles Davis, or Picasso? Should we love it? Does genius deserve special dispensation? Is male monstrosity the same as female monstrosity? 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?

She explores the audience's relationship with artists from Woody Allen to Michael Jackson, asking: How do we balance our undeniable sense of moral outrage with our equally undeniable love of the work? In a more troubling vein, she wonders if an artist needs to be a monster in order to create something great. And if an artist is also a mother, does one identity inexorably, and fatally, interrupt the other? 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.

Praise for Monsters. . .

"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

"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."
—Spencer Ruchti, Author Events Manager at Third Place Books

“What’s a fan to do when they love the art, but hate the artist? asks book critic and essayist Dederer (Love and Trouble) in this nuanced and incisive inquiry...There are no easy answers, but 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 (starred review)

"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, author of Three Women

“An exhilarating, shape-shifting exploration of the perilous boundaries between art and life. This timely book inhabits both the marvelous and the monstrous with generosity and wit.”
Jenny Offill, author of Dept. of Speculation

Claire Dederer is a bestselling memoirist, essayist, and critic. Her books include the critically acclaimed Love and Trouble: A Midlife Reckoning, as well as Poser: My Life in Twenty-three Yoga Poses, which was a New York Times bestseller. Poser has been translated into eleven languages, optioned for television by Warner Bros., and adapted for the stage. Dederer is a longtime contributor to The New York Times. Her essays, criticism, and reviews have also appeared in The Paris Review, The Atlantic, The Nation, Vogue, Marie Claire, Elle, Real Simple, Entertainment Weekly, New York magazine, Chicago Tribune, Newsday, Slate, Salon, High Country News, and many other publications. She began her career as the chief film critic for Seattle Weekly. Dederer currently teaches at the Pacific University low-residency MFA program. She is the recipient of a Hedgebrook residency and a Lannan Foundation residency. Dederer lives on her late father’s houseboat in Seattle. (Photo credit: Stanton J. Stephens)

Kristi Coulter is an acclaimed memoirist, essayist, and fiction writer. Her 2018 debut memoir Nothing Good Can Come from This (MCD Books x FSG Originals) was a finalist for the Washington State Book Award. In September 2023, MCD Books will publish Exit Interview: The Life and Death of My Ambitious Career, a memoir about work, gender, and Coulter’s twelve-year stint as an executive at Amazon. Coulter’s essays and fiction have appeared in The Paris Review, New York Magazine, Elle, Glamour, The Mississippi Review, DAME, Alaska Quarterly, Columbia Journal, The Awl, and elsewhere. She has an MFA in creative writing from the University of Michigan, where she held the Stephen Farrar and Roy Cowden Fellowships and won the Hopwood Award; she is also the recipient of residencies at Ragdale Foundation and The Mineral School. Coulter has taught writing at the University of Michigan and the University of Washington Continuum College, and currently teaches at Seattle’s Hugo House.

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