“Amateur: A True Story About What Makes A Man” is the memoir by Thomas Page McBee in which he explores masculinity through the framework of training for and fighting in a charity boxing match at Madison Square Garden. I commend McBee for taking on the HUGE topic of masculinity (as well as becoming a boxer, duh!) in the mere 204 pages of this book. By framing the discussion through his own experiences, McBee makes the complex subject matter into an enjoyable read that is unique, specific, and eye opening.
McBee is transgendered, a point central to the story but not the main subject. Trans-ness forced McBee to experience the gender conditioning of “boy” that is usually undergone as an infant as an adult, as he said “I am a beginner, a man born at thirty.” That said, even fresh eyes are tainted by gender stereotypes and cultural norms, which McBee is pushing against and grappling with throughout his transition and training. With a voice that is both journalistic (I loved all the quotes from masculinity and gender experts) and deeply personal, all I can say is that I flew through this book and was engaged from start to finish.
“Amateur” is a quick read and I recommend it to anyone. By using his personal experiences, McBee is able to analyze the very complex ideas of masculinity, violence, trans experience, and manhood. But aside from that, it’s entertaining! I actually liked learning about boxing technique, which I never thought I would find interesting! Go out an buy “Amateur,” it’s a compelling read and you’ll feel good about supporting a trans author, something we definitely need more of in the book world!
- Title: Amateur: A True Story About What Makes A Man
- Author: Thomas Page McBee
- Published: August 14, 2018 (Scribner)
- Genre: Memoir, LBGT, Nonfiction
- Booky Nooky Rating: * * * *