The Secret to Superhuman Strength

The Secret to Superhuman Strength

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The Best Graphic Book of 2021 by Publishers Weekly A New York Times Best Graphic Novel of 2021 A New York Times Notable Book An Autostraddle Best Queer Book of the Year A Boston Globe Best Book of the Year A St. Louis Post Dispatch Best Book of the Year NPR, 12 Books NPR Staffers Loved Shelf Awareness Best Books of 2021


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.