Men’s Journal and Rolling Stone contributor Solotaroff (Group: Six People in Search of a Life, 1999, etc.) delves into his personal struggles with self-perception and body image, the result of a disillusioned childhood and a string of failures in school and work.
The uproarious opening chapter is a bittersweet comedy of errors and epiphanies in which one misstep follows another as the author hits rock bottom eating food swiped from a bathroom sink and rummaging through the garbage for a steroid syringe. Solotaroff then goes back to 1975, when, at 6’1” and 140 pounds, “even my hair was depressed.” A college dropout at 20, barely subsisting in New York City and receiving little sympathy from his father, he returned to college and became captivated with classmate Mark, a former “stick-thin boy” turned hulking, “stunning male specimen.” Over an afternoon of euphoric, blood-pumped basic training with this campus chick magnet, Solotaroff became hooked, resulting in an experiment in narcissistic self-improvement gone haywire. Workout buddy Kenny introduced steroids, and three months in, Solotaroff gained 30 pounds of muscle and became “a butch burlesque of male pride.” The author, virtually unrecognizable to his parents, was lost in a swirl of calories, skin-tight clothes, nightclubs, cocaine, orgies and even happiness, albeit temporary. Training with Angel, a black bodybuilding playboy, gave Solotaroff access to more steroids, but being constantly “ravenous and speedy” burned him out on his life as a stripper and as a boyfriend to Kate. As sad as the author’s downward spiral becomes, his yearning for bodily transformation is captivating. With his body collapsing from the drug regimen, the regret becomes palpable as he reconsiders his vainglorious quest.
A sobering, briskly told tale of bigorexia.