Charlie Fox - 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, This Young Monster, Fitzcarraldo Editions, 2017.

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? From TWIN PEAKS to Leigh Bowery, Harmony Korine to Alice in Wonderland, 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….

'Charlie Fox writes about scary and fabulous monsters, but he really writes about culture, which is the monster's best and only escape. He is a dazzling writer, unbelievably erudite, and this book is a pleasure to read. Fox's essays spin out across galaxies of knowledge. Domesticating the difficult, he invites us as his readers to become monsters as well.' - Chris Kraus

‘A Rimbaud-like moonbeam in written form.’ —  Bruce Hainley

‘A performance as original and audacious as any of the characters within – it crackles off the page, roaring and clawing its way into the world, powered by a brilliant vagabond electricity.’ — Chloe Aridjis

‘Charlie Fox is a ferociously gifted critic, whose prose, like a punk Walter Pater’s, attains pure flame. Fox’s sentences, never matchy-matchy, clash with orthodoxy; I love how extravagantly he leaps between different cultural climes, and how intemperately – and with what impressive erudition! – he pledges allegiance to perversity. Take This Young Monster with you to a desert island; his bons mots will supply you with all the protein you need.’ — Wayne Koestenbaum

‘Charlie Fox has a cardsharp’s diamond-eye for cataloguing the shapeshifting face of the sublime. His essays slither through skins over the warm flesh where so many mythic worlds and realities connect, from that of Twin Peaks to Diane Arbus, Fassbinder to Columbine, which somehow in their amassment ventriloquise a tender, enchanted end­notes for our black present. Put on this mask and breathe.’ — Blake Butler

‘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.’ — Lucy Watson

This Young Monster explores the world of some of modern culture's most beloved monsters, taking a look beneath the veil to discover their inner beauty. This is truly a celebration of artists who have become infamous for raising hell, transforming their bodies and creating wonderfully nightmarish visions with their art.
Just what does it mean to be a monster in modern society? Author Charlie Fox lovingly pulls apart the image of the freak and delves inside to explore their dark and intriguing world. Inviting you to join in and become one of the monsters as they turn their innermost desires and secrets into works of art, wearing their hearts (quite literally) on their sleeves for all to see.
Exploring the dark worlds that they've created and telling their stories, from the raucous slapstick comedy of Buster Keaton that often covered up a darker history, to the outlandish costumed art of Leigh Bowery, that allowed him to fully embrace his inner monster, taking in a whirlwind of stories along the way. It's a journey of discovery, and a making of the monster, each as mesmerising and beguiling as the last.
It's much more than biographies of these admired figures, as Charlie Fox weaves each tale together. Picking up a band of fellow misfits along the way (from David Lynch to Alexander McQueen), and piecing together the influences that they held on their work, even decades later.
This Young Monster looks to some of their finest moments in their careers, as well as their low points, which helped to shape them into the very monsters that they became. But for all their inner ghoulishness, their beauty still shines forth, as we celebrate everything that made them so adored by critics and fans alike.
Combined together, each essay makes for an intriguing series of tales, that looks beyond the monsters exteriors to discover a world of untold horrors and unknown pleasures within. If it's horror stories that you're looking for you won't find them in here, but what you will discover is a darker side to some of history's most unique artists and creatives, that's an intriguing and thoroughly entertaining read. - Leona Turford

The author of a recent study on how the concept of the monster irradiates our thinking about queerness, disability, children and adolescents talks us through the sounds that kept his book alive.

A few weeks ago, a package arrived from Fitzcarraldo Editions, one of Europe's leading independent publishing houses. Inside was This Young Monster by Charlie Fox. Charlie Fox, for the uninitiated, is an annoyingly young London-based author who writes for magazines like The Wire, ArtReview and Sight and Sound. This Young Monster is his first full-length work, and it is, to be blunt, an unequivocal masterpiece of cultural criticism.
The book assesses how the concept of the monster irradiates our thinking about queerness, disability, children and adolescents, Fox looks at everything from the films of Rainer Werner Fassbinder to the photos of Larry Clark via Leigh Bowery's attempt to turn life into a never ending performance piece, always asking the reader to think about their own relationship to monsters, and monsterism. I tore through it in a single sitting, and you'll be likely to do the same thing.
In the following piece, Fox examines how electronic music, as refracted through the prism of his book's central concerns, has impacted upon him and his sense of being in the world. -
Read the rest over on thump.

Charlie Fox, Herr Fassbinder’s Trip to Heaven