Amateur By Thomas Page McBee


One of The Times UK’s Best Memoirs of 2018, BuzzFeed’s Best Nonfiction of 2018, Autostraddle’s Best LGBT Books of 2018, and 52 Insight’s Favorite Nonfiction Books of 2018

A “no-holds-barred examination of masculinity” (BuzzFeed) and violence from award-winning author Thomas Page McBee.

In this “refreshing and radical” (The Guardian) narrative, Thomas McBee, a trans man, sets out to uncover what makes a man—and what being a “good” man even means—through his experience training for and fighting in a charity boxing match at Madison Square Garden. A self-described “amateur” at masculinity, McBee embarks on a wide-ranging exploration of gender in society, examining sexism, toxic masculinity, and privilege. As he questions the limitations of gender roles and the roots of masculine aggression, he finds intimacy, hope, and even love in the experience of boxing and in his role as a man in the world. Despite personal history and cultural expectations, “Amateur is a reminder that the individual can still come forward and fight” (The A.V. Club).

“Sharp and precise, open and honest,” (Women’s Review of Books), McBee’s writing asks questions “relevant to all people, trans or not” (New York Newsday). Through interviews with experts in neuroscience, sociology, and critical race theory, he constructs a deft and thoughtful examination of the role of men in contemporary society. Amateur is a graceful and uncompromising look at gender by a fearless, fiercely honest writer.

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Our Bookseller says:

“As the phrase ‘toxic masculinity’ gets thrown around, what are we to make of masculinity itself—especially, those of us who transition in and out of it during our lifetimes? Do we have to ‘break up with it’ or is it redeemable?

Here, McBee, a trans man, explores all his doubts, questions, tensions, and social implications surrounding his newfound relationship to manhood as he trains for a charity boxing match in Madison Square Garden. It’s part-criticism, part-journalism, part-memoir—a little more like Maggie Nelson’s The Red Parts than The Argonauts. Either way, I wish I had this book much sooner in my life. McBee puts into words the feelings I’ve never been able to articulate. Read and learn how.

Spoiler: it’s refreshing to look at ‘manliness’ as this fluid, beautiful, loving thing in us all. A book not just for men, but everyone.” – Mason

Amateur By Thomas Page McBee