Book Review: This Young Monster – Charlie Fox


Posted June 1, 2017 in Print

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This Young Monster

Charlie Fox

Fitzcarraldo

 

Art writer Fox’s debut is an erstwhile odd child’s ode to the bizarre, the troubling, and the obscure. In nine essays that range in topic from pop phantasmagoria – think Twin Peaks and Edward Scissorhands – to the arcane, Fox dives deep into the lives of figures whose lives were gloriously paranormal.

Flying from one reference to the next, his associations string together a glowing portrait of transgression, and of how subversive aesthetics can subvert material reality. In short, this book is a paean to the queer transformative power of art.

But what dark world does this praise hasten? Beyond lauding the freedom to inhabit unusual bodies or to elude convention as an artist or circus performer, Fox seems to exalt flouting any and all ethical precepts. His professed identification with A Clockwork Orange’s serial rapist Alex Delarge is frankly misogynist, and the entire volume exudes a ‘live fast, die young’ ethos rarely sustained amongst those old enough to experience a hangover.

Fox’s racing sentences sometimes run away from him, making This Young Monster more of a declamatory romp than an academic exercise. This is hardly accidental: while indulging the same curious, consuming gaze as the freak shows and films he discusses, Fox eschews the detachment and disgust usually associated with these productions. Instead his monsters beckon, riotously, for us to join them.

Words – Mònica Tomàs White

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