Monsters: A Fan’s Dilemma | Book Review

Can you consume the art of someone who is monstrous?

Ash P.
3 min readJul 6, 2023

I’ve been in dire need of a book like this for years, so you can imagine my excitement when I found it. It was amazing in more ways than one, though I can understand where some people might not like it.

Let’s get into it.

Monsters: A Fan’s Dilemma in a nutshell

Claire Dederer, the author of this book, took the monumental task of tackling the issue of loving the art of monstrous artists.

Art can speak to and inspire us and even heal parts of us, so to find out that the creator of an art piece you love has also committed atrocious acts is a hard reality to face.

How do you continue to consume the art of someone who has said or done horrible things? Does the crime taint the art or should you separate art from the artist? Does it depend on the crime? How do you decide?

These are challenging questions to answer, assuming a one-size-fits-all answer even exists.

This is the dilemma Dederer tackles and it's quite the journey. She takes you through different subsections of the problem, analyzing specific situations with specific artists, and even exploring her experience of loving what she calls ‘art monsters’.

Review of Monsters: A Fan’s Dilemma

I firmly believe you need to read the book and experience the journey the author takes you on, so I won’t spoil anything about her conclusion.


For me, the book was a giant highlight.

The biggest strength was how Dederer takes you through the process of loving art, loving the artist, finding out the artist you love is actually a monster, and how this knowledge impacts your relationship to the art.

“They were accused of doing or saying something awful, and they made something great. The awful thing disrupts the great work; we can’t watch or listen to or read the great work without remembering the awful thing. Flooded with knowledge of the maker’s monstrousness, we turn away, overcome by disgust. Or . . . we don’t. We continue watching, separating or trying to separate the artist from the art. Either way: disruption.”

Reading this book made me feel understood, but beyond that, it made me reflect. I wasn’t looking for someone to spoon-feed me my opinion on the topic. I just wanted to see someone else’s thoughts about art monsters.

In the end, I felt like I had reflected deeply on art monsters and could develop my own opinion on the matter.

Low points

Take this section with a grain of salt because I loved the entire thing, so I’m probably not the best judge of the book’s low points. That being said, I will say that there is one thing that certain readers might not enjoy.

When I say Dederer dives deep into the problem, I meant it. She goes in, exploring the big questions about art monsters as well as the smaller questions that surround the issue.

By exploring the side issues Dederer dedicates long paragraphs to topics like creative genius and why we put artists on a pedestal in the first place.

To a lot of people, these sections might read like rambling tangents that are loosely related to the main topic. To me, it was perfect. Again, I’m very biased because I adore these topics of creativity and artists, etc.

All this is to say that, if you just want to get to what Dederer’s suggested solution to the dilemma is, you might be more interested in reading a detailed book summary. But, if you’re in it for the journey of the problem, then run to your nearest bookstore and get yourself a copy.

My rating

This was an easy 5 stars and a new favorite.

As someone who has dealt with this dilemma for years, I am satisfied with Dederer’s conclusion and perspective on the issue. I’ll definitely be reading this again.

Have you read Monsters: A Fan’s Dilemma? What did you think?