cover image Amateur: A True Story About What Makes a Man

Amateur: A True Story About What Makes a Man

Thomas Page McBee. Scribner, $24 (224p) ISBN 978-1-5011-6874-1

In November 2015, McBee (Man Alive) became the first transgender man to fight a boxing match in Madison Square Garden, and this powerful book chronicles his training and his attempts at understanding why violence is accepted as an aspect of American masculinity. The book unfolds as a series of connected essays that explore masculinity in America, each spun from McBee’s experience training at boxing gyms around Manhattan in the five months leading up to the match. There are glimpses into the early stages of his transition, and a motif about being afraid of men all his life—including as a man, a fear he puts to rest by learning to box. McBee also writes about his current life as a man (“I was still adjusting to... the ease with which my ideas were often executed, the ways my expertise was assumed before I’d proven it”) and his own definition of manhood that allows men to be vulnerable, tender, and unafraid of failure, help, shame, or pain. McBee’s lyrical, achingly honest exploration of loss and maturation offers a hopeful antidote to more toxic forms of masculinity.[em] (Aug.) [/em]