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Man Alive: A True Story of Violence, Forgiveness and Becoming a Man
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Man Alive: A True Story of Violence, Forgiveness and Becoming a Man

4.23  ·  Rating details ·  1,335 ratings  ·  147 reviews
In Man Alive, McBee asks, “What does it really mean to be a man?” by focusing on two of the most impactful men in his life – the father who abused him as a child, and a mugger who threatened his life and then released him in an odd moment of mercy. Standing at the brink of the life-changing decision to transition from female to male, McBee seeks to understand these fallen ...more
Paperback, 172 pages
Published September 9th 2014 by City Lights Publishers (first published August 18th 2014)
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Average rating 4.23  · 
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 ·  1,335 ratings  ·  147 reviews

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Sep 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This book is so, so good.

If I had to say what it's about, I'd say that it's about childhood sexual abuse, a gunpoint mugging as an adult, and how these two experiences informed McBee's understanding of what it means to become a man. That would be a simplification, of course, but I know that sometimes when you read these reviews you want to get some idea of what the book deals with.

I had lots of feelings as I read Man Alive, but the main one was awe at the author's bravery in writing about these
Jun 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful writing, beautiful thoughts on forgiveness, of love, change, pain memories, love.
Apr 07, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-i-own
Really loved this book! I’m stuck between 4 and 5 stars, I think I just wanted it to be a little longer?? And maybe that’s just a testament to how good it is. Very evocative writing that’s almost too poetic but really just right. The super short chapters made it really readable and I’ll definitely read it again one day! I look forward to reading his other book, Amateur. Would also read a whole memoir on his relationship with Parker, I was super intrigued by it.

Huge content warning for childhood
Nov 05, 2014 rated it liked it
A well-written book and an easy read, but I think I was looking for more out of it. It does a good job of describing McBee's personal journey to becoming a man, and the punchline (not really a spoiler) is that you have to be your own man. But I was hoping that someone who has to make the transition to manhood as an adult and from an entirely different perspective might have some insights into what it really means to be a man in our society: what the expectations are, how we respond to them, how ...more
Esther Espeland
Nov 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
A quick, powerful, precise read! Big cw for childhood sexual abuse
Apr 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I’m rarely moved by anything, so it’s always an indication of great writing when I am. Thomas writes of his incredibly honest journey trying to to reconcile his past with who he is and who he wants to be. Not a light read by any means.
Sep 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A very thoughtful and beautifully written memoir. McBee writes about his transition to male, while exploring the ongoing effect on him of two big formative experiences: being molested by his father (or presumed-at-the-time father) as a child, and being mugged with his partner as an adult. These are obviously both very bad things, and both affected how he looked at himself and his gender identity. But the way he writes about them, about the people around him (and himself), and about cause and eff ...more
Dec 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I've read a number of books and stories by trans women of late and it's great to finally read something more from the trans male side of the coin (shout out to Dylan Edwards and his wonderful 2012 book of comics from Northwest Press called Transposes). McBee is a tremendously talented writer (hard to believe he's only in his early 30's) and this memoir is a haunting and moving piece of work. Highly recommended; when I finished it I was near tears. ...more
Savannah Tracy
Jan 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I started Man Alive months ago but only read a chapter or so, then read the entire book in one sitting today. Man am I mad at myself for putting it off! This was an incredibly crafted book from start to finish and hit so many chords along the way. What a beautiful read. I would venture to say that this is better than Amateur?? The prose and structure are clearly so carefully considered but not overwrought. big CW for childhood sexual assault.
I reread this for class (I'm teaching it alongside Kai Cheng Thom's Fierce Femmes and Notorious Liars in my Trans Studies class) -- it's an intense read, addressing McBee's confrontation with his history of childhood trauma as a kind of final stage that he needed to get through before entering into masculinity and new selfhood. On second read, found some of the themes repetitive and a little too tidily resolved -- though still appreciate so much, especially the questions that are asked--about (g ...more
Oct 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir
If you've been in my vicinity for this past week or so, you've heard me go on and on about this book. Gripping, poignant, heartbreaking and so so so well-written and perfect. This guy is gonna be huge. ...more
Rambling Reader
Oct 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
Unbelievable writing. Impressive stuff. Can't wait to read more by Thomas Page McBee.

Dylan Ramsay-Keal
Mar 26, 2022 rated it really liked it
Painful and poetic. It’s a must read!
Feb 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I quite enjoyed this book, there were times where I didn’t overly like jumping from age to age in Thomas’ story but in the end it does make sense for the flow of the book. Having the more crucial chapters in the book stood out to me quite a bit while the ones that played a part were shorter, it made the reading flow nice and simple. This is one of the first autobiographies that I have ever read and I think of it as a bold choice for a first one considering the topics discussed in the novel. I ap ...more
Bryan Cebulski
Nov 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
It took me about half the book to really get into, but fantastic once I settled into the style. There's something about the approach and the language that was off-putting at first--the organizing of one's life through these specific lenses and poetic syntax--but once I accepted and embraced how this is McBee's way of processing and communicating something deeply personal and important, I was able to better appreciate the book.

Man Alive is spare and powerful, sort of prose poetry memoir. Reminds
Moray Teale
May 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
Thomas Page McBee’s account of his decision to move from passing to full female-to-male transition is testament to how a personal story can be told simply but with huge power and heart. It isn’t an easy story to read, I can’t imagine how it was to live, as McBee explains his childhood abuse at the hands of his father and his struggle to come to terms with the potential relationship between this abuse and the development of his gender identity. Because at the heart of this story is the question, ...more
Mar 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed, ebooks
"Man Alive: A True Story of Violence" author/columnist Thomas McBee, recalled his life from childhood on, revealing his impassioned story in short chapters from past to present. He discussed how child abuse, parental betrayal, a violent street mugging impacted his life, and importantly how he chose not to be defined by trauma. McBee wrote with tremendous integrity and compassion of his views on modern masculinity, his relationships with family members, others, also his partner, Parker.

To come to
Nov 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Outstanding work. I'm not much of a writer so I have decided to make my Goodreads review up of quotations on the book.

"It's a confession, it's a poem, it's a time warp, it's a brilliant work of art."

"McBee takes us in his capable hands and shows us what it takes to become a man who is gloriously, gloriously alive."

"To read it is to witness the birth of a fuller, truer self."

"A real achievement of form and narrative."

"It's a story about patience, forgiveness, kindness and bravery."

Anyway, read t
Nov 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
This review was originally published in the Media: http://www.fvckthemedia.com/issue46/r...

When I first met Thomas Page McBee in 2012, he was working at the now-defunct alt-weekly The Boston Phoenix. McBee was working to make queerness more visible at the publication – not just white, upper middle class gays concerned first and foremost with marriage, but lesser told stories of people who are less often heard. Not because the stories aren’t there, but because they are largely ignored.

McBee was
Oct 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, lgbtq
this is really beautifully written and poignant. mcbee's prose is very minimal yet very powerful, and i was totally absorbed in his musings on his family and himself through the structure of the chapters. i guess i wanted more of it. this is a really short read and i feel like i wanted mcbee to dive a little deeper into some of the themes, but i also do like how restrained it is in divulging information (letting the reader make connections on their own). overall a really solid and moving read. ...more
Dec 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Beautifully written and incredibly moving in its self-awareness. McBee is such a talented writer and while I expected nothing less from him - having read his other book months ago - this book still managed to surprise me in its brilliance. McBee is that kind of author whose books make you wish he was your friend. More please!
Will McGrath
Oct 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely one of the best books I've read this year - the memoir of a trans man coming to terms with violence and identity. Novelistic in its layered themes, with the pacing of a thriller. A work of radical empathy.

I feel lucky to have read this book.
Michael Clark
Jan 25, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, memoir, lgbtq
Review to come.
Kristin Boldon
Mar 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mfa, own, memoir, 2019
A great memoir that deals delicately with heavy subjects like abuse, violence, sex change, and DNA surprises. Beautiful prose, and so much insight and compassion.
Mel King
Mar 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
An absolute stunner of a book and an instant favorite.
Jan 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Breathtakingly beautiful.
Dec 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Beautifully, poetically, simply written. One of my top reads of the year. Centers on pathways and connectedness of trauma; gender identity; forgiveness; relationship dynamism.
Sep 06, 2022 added it
read for my transgender law & politics class
Feb 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
God DAMN, is this a good book. I'd even venture to say it's a great book. The subject (parts of this man's life- it's memoir-ish, McBee's authors note says "This is a work of nonfiction, but it relies on memory and, as such, its attendant illusions, specters, and plays of light. It is the truth as I've lived it. Many names have been changed") is interesting in itself, but the prose is was makes it great. While reading, I kept having to remind myself that it was nonfiction, I kept feeling it was ...more
Jun 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
...I fucking devoured this book, and it's going to take me a few days to process (I might also read it again immediately). ...more
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Thomas Page McBee’s Lambda award-winning memoir, Man Alive, was named a best book of 2014 by NPR Books, BuzzFeed, Kirkus, and Publisher's Weekly. His “refreshing [and] radical” (The Guardian) new book, Amateur, a reported memoir about learning how to box in order to understand masculinity’s tie to violence, was published in August to wide acclaim.
Thomas was the first transgender man to box in Mad

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