The Secret to Superhuman Strength Summary and Reviews

The Secret to Superhuman Strength

by Alison Bechdel

The Secret to Superhuman Strength by Alison Bechdel X
The Secret to Superhuman Strength by Alison Bechdel
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  • Published in USA  May 2021
    240 pages
    Genre: Biography/Memoir

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Book Summary

From the author of Fun Home, a profoundly affecting graphic memoir of Bechdel's lifelong love affair with exercise, set against a hilarious chronicle of fitness fads in our times.

Comics and cultural superstar Alison Bechdel delivers a deeply layered story of her fascination, from childhood to adulthood, with every fitness craze to come down the pike: from Jack LaLanne in the 60s ("Outlandish jumpsuit! Cantaloupe-sized guns!") to the existential oddness of present-day spin class. Readers will see their athletic or semi-active pasts flash before their eyes through an ever-evolving panoply of running shoes, bicycles, skis, and sundry other gear. But the more Bechdel tries to improve herself, the more her self appears to be the thing in her way. She turns for enlightenment to Eastern philosophers and literary figures, including Beat writer Jack Kerouac, whose search for self-transcendence in the great outdoors appears in moving conversation with the author's own. This gifted artist and not-getting-any-younger exerciser comes to a soulful conclusion. The secret to superhuman strength lies not in six-pack abs, but in something much less clearly defined: facing her own non-transcendent but all-important interdependence with others.

A heartrendingly comic chronicle for our times.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Bechdel makes a welcome return with this dense, finely wrought deep dive into her lifelong fixation with exercise as a balm for a variety of needs...Grappling with the desire for spiritual transcendence in the most intensely personal terms, Bechdel achieves a tricky—even enlightening—balance." - Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"The author's probing intelligence and self-deprecating humor continue to shimmer through her emotionally expressive drawings...More thought-provoking work from an important creator." - Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"In Bechdel's inimitable storytelling and comics style, as in her much-loved and -lauded Fun Home (2006) and Are You My Mother? (2012), this is sprawling and dense in the best way, and her legions of fans will devour it." - Booklist (starred review)

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Author Information

Alison Bechdel

Alison Bechdel's cult following for her early comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For expanded wildly for her family memoirs, the best-selling graphic memoir Fun Home, adapted into a Tony Award-winning musical, and Are You My Mother? Bechdel has been named a MacArthur Fellow and Cartoonist Laureate of Vermont, among many other honors.

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