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Like Zan's unathletic friend in Rinehart Lifts (1980), Dusty Blaisdale begins as a reluctant body builder. Extravagantly lovelorn after a breakup with Mariana Fleming, Dusty attempts to end weeks of moping by driving off a pier on a Long Island muscle beach. But he's rescued by members of the local Iron Club and badgered by their good samaritan leader, Rush, to join them. Dusty does, in hopes that his new body will impress Mariana; and gradually he develops an interest in the club and its trainer, the Black Prince, a 46-year-old has-been who never became King because of judges' racial prejudice. Other members tell Dusty that the Prince might win now except that he ""menaces judges with his haughty expression""--and Dusty takes it upon himself to goad the Prince into making another try for the title. Still, Mariana remains ever on Dusty's mind; and because the club is a close-knit brotherhood, the other members help him get her back. Though he flubs a chance to compete for Mr. Novice, the story ends in double victory with the whole club flying to the Coast to see their trainer take the big title--softening his act by using Dusty's sentimental music selection--and with Mariana turning up there too, a surprise for Dusty. Knudson's readers, who know not to expect subtlety or depth of characterization, are in for a total immersion in the bodybuilding culture and a heavily outlined picture of ""boys"" (from junior high to junior college) with hearts of gold and pecs and traps and deltoids of steel. They devote themselves to building award-winning bodies and spend their spare time supporting each other and--in terms unlikely to endear them to Zan and her friends--pursuing ""babes"" with ""knockers that go 'Va-voom.'"" An exercise in empathy perhaps, with lots of sweaty workout atmosphere.

Pub Date: Feb. 22nd, 1982
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux