Amateur by Thomas Page McBee

Reading Amateur is watching someone try to simultaneously figure out who they are, who the world wants them to be, and why. It’s deeply personal and politically vital, a calm and contemplative antidote to male toxicity.

Book Review by Ross McIndoe | 31 Jul 2018
  • Amateur
Book title: Amateur: A True Story About What Makes A Man
Author: Thomas Page McBee

What does it mean to be a man?

In his search for an answer to this question, Thomas Page McBee steps into a place where masculinity resides in its most romanticised and rawest form: the boxing ring. A gender so often defined by violence, the ring is a place where its cardinal values of aggression, pride and fearlessness can ascend into physical lyricism. At other times, they collapse into mere brutality.

McBee seeks out this place to answer a question he can’t ignore. As the first trans man to box in Madison Square Garden, he has watched the whole world swivel in its perception of him. His male face and form make more sense to him when he looks in the mirror, but less to the world around him. His inner self has become like a word translated into a language with no exact equivalent. He steps into the ring to confront his worst fears and greatest hopes of what it means to be a man.

Each moment of gym-bro camaraderie, each midnight exchange with his partner, each step in his journey towards the ring is met with an inquisitive, introspective eye. Reading Amateur is watching someone try to simultaneously figure out who they are, who the world wants them to be, and why. It’s deeply personal and politically vital, a calm and contemplative antidote to male toxicity.

Canongate, 2 Aug, £14.99 https://canongate.co.uk/books/2418-amateur-a-true-story-about-what-makes-a-man/