This Young Monster is a hallucinatory celebration of artists who raise hell, transform their bodies, anger their elders and show their audience dark, disturbing things. What does it mean to be a freak? Why might we be wise to think of the present as a time of monstrosity? And how does the concept of the monster irradiate our thinking about queerness, disability, children and adolescents? This Young Monster gets high on a whole range of riotous art as its voice and form shape-shift, all in the name of dealing with the strange wonders of what Nabokov once called ‘monsterhood’. Ready or not, here they come...
In these nine essays, Charlie Fox uses his fearsome knowledge of popular culture to paint portraits of notable artistic outsiders ... Fox celebrates the ugly, the weird and the transgressive ... Surreal and provocative, This Young Monster is both a poignant portrayal of life on the margins, and a joyful salute to a group of people who embraced their misfit status to lead beautifully unconventional lives.
Charlie Fox has such good taste, one could forgive him almost anything. This Young Monster is a long, extremely erudite rant about the connections between queerness, monstrosity and the creative drive ... Fox goes gambolling through modernity, pausing to point out the similarities between prodigies like Rimbaud, Fassbinder and Diane Arbus ... His title, taken from A Clockwork Orange, is a clue to the linguistic brio and occasional ultraviolence that lie within ... The sections complement one another, but don’t really build into an argument about the primacy of youth, or indeed monstrosity. To be fair, any criticism levelled at the book regarding style and structure can be dismissed with a retort that this is a book about monstrosity, and form follows function. What’s harder to forget is that if genius is a kind of monstrosity, and like other mutations, appears seemingly at random, so why do only white men get to be enfants terribles? There must be other ways to be a genius that don’t involve pimping out Udo Kier and stabbing Verlaine ... Despite its indulgence of the geniuses’ foibles, the book is riotously good fun. It’s a testament to Fox’s persuasive powers that the links between Leigh Bowery and Stephen Tennant or Alexander McQueen and Anne Carson seem obvious, once he has pointed them out. Hopefully, this book, with its message....and treasure trove of lists, arranged neatly at the back, will appeal to younger, questioning readers, as well as those of us more established in our monsterdom. Vive Charlie Fox, le freak c’est chic!
There are all kinds of monsters in the world and Charlie Fox wants us to see them for all of their good and all of their evil, in all of their glory ... Monstrosity, Fox seems to be telling us, lies at the edges, close to being born and close to dying off. All children are monsters, something Fox points out and something I’ve always believed as well ... Fox focuses on male monstrosity which I think is decidedly different, historically and psychologically, than female monstrosity ... He takes on a trip through our cultural demons and monsters, freaks and boogey-men with clarity, precision and a sense of humor ... Charlie Fox gives us his childhood obsessions and helps us to revisit our own through a new lens. Reading these essays I found myself highlighting not just the many films and books Fox mentions that I now want to explore but the intelligent yet lighthearted way Fox understands the burden we each face in our monstrosity.