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The Body Shop: Parties, Pills, and Pumping Iron -- Or, My Life in the Age of Muscle

3.56 of 5 stars 3.56  ·  rating details  ·  45 ratings  ·  18 reviews
As a scrawny college freshman in the mid-1970s, just before Arnold Schwarzenegger became a hero to boys everywhere and Pumping Iron became a cult hit, Paul Solotaroff discovered weights and steroids. In a matter of months, he grew from a dorky beanpole into a hulking behemoth, showing off his rock hard muscles first on the streets of New York City and then alongside his co...more
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published July 26th 2010 by Little, Brown and Company (first published July 8th 2010)
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Doug Lambeth
"The Body Shop" is heartbreaking, hilarious, and raunchy--with bad '70s hair, clothes, and music (if you're of the era prepare to be earwormed by the "Chicken Delight" jingle and "Disco Inferno")...in a phrase, it's epically good. Paul Solotaroff is a scrawny Jewish kid who blossoms after he discovers weightlifting, 'roids, and sex but ultimately loses himself in the maelstrom of late '70s debauchery and foolishness. His mentor, Angel, is one of the most brilliantly drawn characters ever; as is...more
Bookventures Book Club
Admittedly, I went into this book with some preconceived notions about it. One look at the over confirmed a few of them but I was also afraid that the book was going to be overly macho for me to enjoy it. Boy was I wrong! Ideally, The Body Shop can be described as a look into the male psyche in the late 1970’s. Research (and also detailed analysis in the book) suggests that this was the age of the body builders; spawned by Arnold Schwarzenegger, when men strutted around with huge biceps and abs...more
Evie
I won my copy of The Body Shop from goodreads, and when the notification hit my email, I was pretty excited to have won a free book. Little did I know at the time that what was coming to me in the mail was actually a really good read!

I picked up the book and had a pretty tough time putting it down. I took it to work and read it during breaks and even nibbled paragraphs of it during lulls in conversation with my house guests. I finished it over the course of two days, because, well I just couldn'...more
Julie Smith (Knitting and Sundries)
This review first appeared on my blog: http://jewelknits.blogspot.com/2010/0...

I have a rather testy relationship with memoirs. Most I find to be either a flagrant lapse into "other-blame" (my mom was horrible to me; thereby I did coke) or a dry recounting of events that don't feel as though they actually happened to ANYone. Other times, the "self-promotion" factor becomes too much for me - I feel that if you're really THAT great, you don't have to toot your own horn - others will do it for you....more
Matt
Definitely the best-written addiction memoir I've read (so the better one, of two, then). Solotaroff manages to make his sordid little tale entertaining despite its deep undercurrent of sadness and loss. Several times his humor and light touch left me unprepared for an emotional sucker punch; that conflict between mature self-deprecation and still-raw pain is Solotaroff's strength.
Bridget
I got this book because the description sounded like something I would enjoy. I was completely shocked by how interesting this memoir is. It almost reads like fiction in some parts and Paul is a master with words.
Ted
Solotaroff excels at sharing gripping stories of '70's debauchery and eminating the presence of characters like Angel and himself who recklessly sought to be larger than life (through steroids and blow). He's also apt in expressing the epiphanies that can happen in lifting weights and in life, while disclosing his incessant feelings of vulnerability which frequently bottomed him out several time througout his life. While he does provide some ace period detail like bringing up Ron Blomberg of the...more
Shannon
Paul grew up with a workaholic father, a strange mother and two stepmothers. When he went off to college in 1976, he was insecure, socially awkward, inexperienced, tall and gangly. He wanted to be the strong, man of muscle that women ogled and men respected. To become that man, Paul turned to drugs.

I had a very difficult time starting this book because it's so different from what I normally read and the point of view was very male. It's a mix of slang and heavy vocabulary with some Jewish (I thi...more
Darcy
While at times it was difficult to absorb the Studio 54-esq scenes, Paul Solotaroff's accounting of his foray into chemical muscle building was a great read and a real eye opener. Hearing the reasons some of these young men had for entering the dark and make-it-up as you go world of 'roids, I have a greater understanding. Paul's anxiety as he saw his body shrink in, not just days but hours, makes you see his body dysmorphia in the same way an anorexic sees her body and what she feels she must do...more
Suzanne
I'd like to say a compelling story, beautifully written, but I'm afraid it might lead the more sensitive types to pick this up. It is compelling and is the writing makes you feel like you were there, BUT, it is also full of profanity, sex and illegal drugs. Paul Solotaroff chronicles his change from wimpy, studious Jewish kid to beefcake stripper in just a few short months with the help of weight lifting "mentors" who introduce him to steroids and the fast lane. You know it's a train wreck waiti...more
Melody
Solotaroff is self-deprecating and wry as he documents his nightmare journey into steroid use in the 70s. He also abused drugs and alcohol and dancing (seriously). The stories are hair-raising and all too human, the writing is very good though it does descend into the purple on occasion. Some of the passages about how the author reacted to the pure animal joy of weightlifting certainly resonated with me. The parts that were more alien, about being a genetically non-muscular adolescent male, were...more
Cat
Sex, Drugs, and Working Out! This is a really well written memoir, extremely readable and entertaining despite the misery that Solotaroff is enduring for the sake of his juiced up physique. By the end of the novel I felt a little bit worn out by the narcissism and self involvement that characterized Solotaroff's search for manhood but his sense of humor keeps you reading. The language is crass and the clothes sound ridiculous. New Yorkers may enjoy the repeated insults to the people and culture...more
Rose
Received this wonderful book as a First Reads winner. Had no idea what I was in for!! Having lived through the 70's and its machismo/modelbeauty world, I can now see what chaos was rendered to those who thought that THE BODY was the route to attaining nirvana. Hopefully, those who read and take the lessons of this book to heart will understand that THE BODY soon fails even the most astute caretaker but spritual enlightment lives on forever!
Francine
I understand when writers are told to "write how you speak," but I couldn't understand this guy. It was sleazy though. I didn't finish it. I only picked it up because it caught my eye with the steroids, drugs, sex and disco blurb.
Mark
What a great book. So brutally honest,it is Solotaroff's conscious closet-cleaning. If you are also fascinated by people who risk it all, enjoy it, then pay the price, this is a your book.
Jeanpaul
First book I have read on my Nook Color. So far so good.
Lisa
This was a great 70's flashback.
Matt
Matt added it
Jul 13, 2014
Aaron Blaine
Aaron Blaine marked it as to-read
May 21, 2014
Raymonni Donni
Raymonni Donni marked it as to-read
May 08, 2014
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Paul Solotaroff is a contributing editor at Men's Journal and Rolling Stone. He has written features for Vanity Fair, GQ, Vogue, and the New York Times Magazine, and he was nominated for a National Magazine Award in 2004. His work has been included in Best American Sports Writing. The author of two books, Group and The House of Purple Hearts, he lives in New York City.

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 Group: Six People in Search of a Life House of Purple Hearts: Stories of Vietnam Vets Who Find Their Way Back Body Shop, The: Parties, Pills, and Pumping Iron -- Or, My Life in the Age of Muscle

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