The intellectual bodybuilder

Cover of: Muscle by Samuel Wilson Fussell Muscle: Confessions of an Unlikely Bodybuilder
by Sam Fussell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sam Fussell, a tall and scrawny son of two writers and academics (Paul and Betty Fussell) started bodybuilding in an effort to remake himself, and succeeded, to the point where, 4 years and 80 pounds later, he competed in and nearly won a bodybuilding competition. This is the hilarious story of how he did it and the outlandish characters he met on the way – all in search of size and definition. (Here is a blog post giving a fuller summary.)

A fun read, though there are occasionally too much detail on diet and training regimens – on the other hand, it nicely illustrates the obsessiveness needed. I understand Muscle has become something of a cult read in bodybuilding circles – the author, quitting after realizing the futility in it all, nevertheless leaves you with a feeling that for all the drugs and diets, he did enjoy being something different for a while – still comparatively safe that he had a somewhat privileged position to return to.

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