"McBee’s lyrical, achingly honest exploration of loss and maturation offers a hopeful antidote to more toxic forms of masculinity." -Publisher's Weekly, starred review
"Provocative and illuminating—a winning follow-up to McBee's acclaimed debut." -Kirkus Reviews
"In an age when identity feels so splintered and fractional, McBee’s empathy with men feels refreshing, but it’s his determination to be accountable that is radical. He resolves his own masculinity crisis by doing the things men often think they’re doing, but so often are not: listening, asking questions, seeking help, being vulnerable." —The Guardian
From an award-winning writer whose work bristles with “hard-won strength, insight, agility, and love” (Maggie Nelson), an exquisite and troubling narrative of masculinity, violence, and society.
In this groundbreaking book, shortlisted for the UK’s prestigious Baillie-Gifford nonfiction book prize, the author, a trans man, trains to fight in a charity match at Madison Square Garden while struggling to untangle the vexed relationship between masculinity and violence. Through his experience boxing—learning to get hit, and to hit back; wrestling with the camaraderie of the gym; confronting the betrayals and strength of his own body—McBee examines the weight of male violence, the pervasiveness of gender stereotypes, and the limitations of conventional masculinity. A wide-ranging exploration of gender in our society, Amateur is ultimately a story of hope, as McBee traces a new way forward, a new kind of masculinity, inside the ring and outside of it.
In this graceful, stunning, and uncompromising exploration of living, fighting, and healing, we gain insight into the stereotypes and shifting realities of masculinity today through the eyes of a new man.
“Until I read this book, I didn't realize how tired I was of reading about masculinity as cold, hard, and fixed. Amateur is a warm hug. It’s also an invitation to everyone who's ever struggled to accept failure, searched for a sense of belonging, or said ‘Ugh, men’ in an exasperated tone to think harder and be kinder. I want the world to read it.”-Ann Friedman, New York Magazine columnist and cohost of Call Your Girlfriend
“It’s hard to overstate how important and profound it feels to read a personal account of a man actively examining his own masculinity and privilege in such an honest way." -Women's Review of Books
"This book relays a subtle, profound personal investigation into masculinity and personhood ... McBee’s great twist is to treat masculinity itself as an anthropological phenomenon, represented by this bloody, extreme sport. Inside the fight, McBee finds reconciliation." —The New Republic
"A no-holds-barred examination of masculinity. McBee describes the journey as a way of grappling with his newish place in the world of toxic (and privileged) masculinity ... a compassionate look at what it means to be a man and the circumstances that have engendered our expectations. It is in many ways a happy dismantling of these expectations, an opening of masculinity to make room for love, support, and tenderness — something McBee is pleasantly surprised to find along the way." —Buzzfeed
"Thomas Page McBee’s new memoir, Amateur, is a powerful exploration of the costs of toxic masculinity and the joys of an authentic life. It is also a classic fight story. Superbly written and keenly observed, Amateur manages to juggle all of these elements with grace and wit."
"McBee is consistently vulnerable—both physically and in how he shares his experience. Yet at the end of Amateur, after all the punches, interviews, and introspection, the author does not arrive at any simple answers. Instead, that initial question about men and fighting multiplies into larger ones ... While he gets closer and closer to that eventual fight night in New York, his investigation of men is made more powerful by this lack of certainty—ultimately asking whether anyone, including those who flaunt their political strength in Washington D.C., truly comprehends the meaning of masculinity." —Bitch Magazine
"Marvelous...Thomas Page McBee displays tenacity on the page and in the gym, sizing up formidable concepts and engaging them with savvy and sensitivity. Amateur is more than a boxing story, just as it's more than a trans narrative. It's a highly recommended case study in manhood." —Dave Wheeler, Shelf Awareness
"Amateur takes a classic, well-worn subject—a man whose fight with other men is ultimately a confrontation with the self—and completely revitalizes, renews, and enriches it. McBee grapples with enormous issues such as masculinity, identity, transformation, and loss with great depth and intelligence, and in doing so, explores so many of the tough questions we should all be asking ourselves. Though slim and sharply concise, Amateur enlarges the world by opening up greater, more hopeful realms of possibility. I am a better man for having read this book." —Isaac Fitzgerald, founding editor of BuzzFeed Books and co-host of BuzzFeed's Twitter morning show, #AMtoDM
"The hot center of this book, the new work that it does, is McBee’s search to identify and adopt ways to be a 'better' man. He wants to know, as a man, how to fight gender inequity ... At a time when equity of all kinds is being suppressed, Amateur is a reminder that the individual can still come forward and fight." —The A.V. Club
"This timely memoir explores male-female power dynamics in an uplifting story of someone who becomes 'a new man' in ways even he couldn’t anticipate." —Booklist
“Riveting. [McBee] is a compelling narrator. A heartfelt glimpse of a trans person’s life, with a very dramatic boxing match bringing into focus the gender binary…Readers will be able to relate and gain new perspectives.” —Library Journal
"This is an extraordinary, humane and compassionate book about aggression, selfhood and love. Nothing short of superb."—Attitude Magazine
"In finding the vulnerability guys hope to hide, McBee finds hope for all men." —The Advocate
"When men fight, they are fighting the parts of themselves they hate, as McBee, himself a victim of abuse, discovers ... [the account] is interspersed with insights from a wide range of commentators and experts on issues relating to masculinity, race, gender and violence. It all adds up to a gripping and fascinating journey."—The Press Association
“Amateur is a brutally honest look at the problems with masculinity, laced through with hope, and joy, and possibility. Thomas McBee confronts fears and realities with grace, toughness, and poetry. A beautiful book.” —Michelle Tea, author of Black Wave and How to Grow Up