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Muscle: Confessions of an Unlikely Bodybuilder Paperback – August 1, 1992


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 264 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Reprint edition (August 1, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0380717638
  • ISBN-13: 978-0380717637
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 5.2 x 8.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (95 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #358,747 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Fussell, who took up bodybuilding after attending Oxford, tells his story and examines the diets, drugs and dedication that drive the bodybuilding world. Enjoyable reading.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

YA-- Teenage boys who a generation ago would have answered Charles Atlas ads will be attracted to this book about Fussell's own immersion program in bodybuilding. He is an Oxford honors graduate in English language and literature and writes engagingly about what drew him into the subculture of gym life. He includes the reaction of his bewildered parents and describes the assortment of gym habitues who befriended him. This is no George Plimpton inside glimpse--the author lived the bodybuilding life full-time for four years, and he shares with his readers that life of mind-numbing exercises, fistfuls of vitamins, and steroid injections. This is destined to be a cult book that will survive because of its humor, its truth, and its fine writing. --Judy McAloon, Richard Byrd Library, Fairfax County, VA
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

This book has always been a fun read for me.
Justin Justin
This biography of Sam Fussell's experimentation (serious experimentation) with bodybuilding is a truly great read.
Brian Malley
I understand people dropping everything and focusing on the one thing that is most important to them.
Nemo

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

50 of 53 people found the following review helpful By Jeff Richardson on July 21, 2003
Format: Paperback
Sam Fussell comes from a family of intellectuals (his father is the author/professor Paul Fussell) and it is not surprising that he appeared to be following in their footsteps. He graduated from Oxford University and then proceeded to get a job in New York before entering graduate school. What is surprising is the detour that he took. Living in New York and being accosted by street people and witnessing acts of violence had the rather predictable and understandable effect of instilling him with some fear; however, his fear appeared to be more consuming than in most people. Sam Fussell sought some way in which to conquer the fear. He considered the martial arts but nixed that idea after reasoning that he would actually have to fight in order to employ them. After happening into a bookstore the answer presented itself. Bodybuilding could create a hulking Samuel Fussell that anyone would think twice about before assaulting. The current Sam Fussell was ectomorphic at 6'4" and 170 or a 175 pounds and clearly not someone who intimidated steet toughs.
Being a bookish sort, he purchased bodybuilding books and magazines before eventually getting a YMCA membership. He then started out using only the machines while marvelling at "Sweet Pea" and the other muscleheads who grunted, groaned and cursed their way through set after set of freeweight exercises. Diligently doing his circuit training routine and increasing his caloric consumption allowed Sam to make respectable progress, even gaining the attention of the behemoths on the other side of the gym. The story of his becoming a freeweight practitioner, initiated into the clique of weight-lifters at the Y and being taught such things as how to walk like a builder makes for entertaining reading.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 26, 2001
Format: Paperback
I loved this book since reading it for the first time one year ago. Since then I have re-read it several times, and never get tired of the story.
It is easy to relate to the fears that drove Sam to take up bodybuilding. What is interesting is how those fears turned a well-bred, well-education, intelligent man in his mid-20s, into a an anti-social outcast among his friends and family.
Bodybuilding is a great sport, and lifting weights is a healthy activity. But because of the author's psychological issues, he lets it become an unhealthy obsession. The author quits his job and takes up residence in a window-less concrete basement while training full-time New York.
He comes to California, and associates with other obsessed with bodybuilding. These people include his training partner/steroid-dealer, a father-son team who train full-time at the gym while live out of their car, and a female bodybuilder with more testosterone in her body than most men. Sam shoots himself up with steroids, bullies people on the street, and competes in local competitions.
In the end, his quick departure from the sport is consistent with someone who came to the sport only because he was trying to find himself. And after bodybuilding didn't provide all of life's answers to Sam's satisfaction, he moved on.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 27, 1999
Format: Paperback
Finally, someone who isn't afraid of telling the truth about what it takes to make it in bodybuilding. Fussell remains honest throughout the whole book and keeps nothing back. This is a must read and an eye-opener for anyone who wants to know what bodybuilders go through to win. I really appreciate the honesty that Fussell brings to bodybuilding through this book. He takes a no-holds barred approach...he tells it like it is, I ought to know I am a former competitor myself. He is right on! If you are a bodybuilder and you read this book...it may scare you to see the truth, you know the truth but you are in denial...it's true and I too, can indentify with 100% of Fussell's feelings. Does anyone know where Fussell is now? This book is an easy read and you'll finish it in no time. Order it!
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By James J. Hastings on February 2, 2001
Format: Paperback
I'll admit it is no great literary achievement, but MUSCLE is a wonderful book that is so honest it's unbelievable. I'm no bodybuilder, but I do go to the the gym several times a week and this book is both an inspiration and a warning. It is the story of one man's quest to feel safe in NYC and how he finds that haven.
Once he discovers the gym, and sees the benefits (both physical and mental) of working out, Fussell sets a greater goal: to become a professional bodybuilder. And he stops at nothing to attain it, giving up everything--including his health. Utterly amazing are the before and after photos in the middle!
I love this book. I read it twice. My old roomate read it twice--so did the guy he borrowed it from. I even gave a copy to my brother to inspire him after recovering from a hernia operation. He doesn't read much, but he liked the pictures.
Why do like it so much? I don't know why. I can relate to it I suppose. Like Fussell, I work in book publishing and got into weight training like he did (but not as extreme). The beauty of this book -- besides the humor and shocking things the characters do -- is that it is a true account on a subject you never hear much about.
Seriously, MUSCLE is a quick, entertaining, interesting, excellent read. You don't have to be into bodybuilding to enjoy it.
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