A sobering, briskly told tale of bigorexia.




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.

Pub Date: July 26, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-316-01101-3

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2010

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An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

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The former first lady opens up about her early life, her journey to the White House, and the eight history-making years that followed.

It’s not surprising that Obama grew up a rambunctious kid with a stubborn streak and an “I’ll show you” attitude. After all, it takes a special kind of moxie to survive being the first African-American FLOTUS—and not only survive, but thrive. For eight years, we witnessed the adversity the first family had to face, and now we get to read what it was really like growing up in a working-class family on Chicago’s South Side and ending up at the world’s most famous address. As the author amply shows, her can-do attitude was daunted at times by racism, leaving her wondering if she was good enough. Nevertheless, she persisted, graduating from Chicago’s first magnet high school, Princeton, and Harvard Law School, and pursuing careers in law and the nonprofit world. With her characteristic candor and dry wit, she recounts the story of her fateful meeting with her future husband. Once they were officially a couple, her feelings for him turned into a “toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfillment, wonder.” But for someone with a “natural resistance to chaos,” being the wife of an ambitious politician was no small feat, and becoming a mother along the way added another layer of complexity. Throw a presidential campaign into the mix, and even the most assured woman could begin to crack under the pressure. Later, adjusting to life in the White House was a formidable challenge for the self-described “control freak”—not to mention the difficulty of sparing their daughters the ugly side of politics and preserving their privacy as much as possible. Through it all, Obama remained determined to serve with grace and help others through initiatives like the White House garden and her campaign to fight childhood obesity. And even though she deems herself “not a political person,” she shares frank thoughts about the 2016 election.

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6313-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2018

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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