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

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4.21  ·  Rating details ·  826 ratings  ·  104 reviews
If he is to become a man, what sort of man should Thomas Page McBee be?

To find out, McBee must confront the suffering he has endured at the hands of men: the abuse he endured as a child from his father, and the violent mugging which almost killed him as an adult. Standing at the brink of the life-changing decision to transition from female to male, McBee seeks to
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Paperback, 176 pages
Published September 5th 2017 by Canongate Books (first published August 18th 2014)
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Average rating 4.21  · 
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 ·  826 ratings  ·  104 reviews


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Claire
Sep 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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Esther Espeland
Nov 24, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A quick, powerful, precise read! Big cw for childhood sexual abuse
Nick
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
Hind
Apr 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Emmkay
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 ...more
Robert
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.
Moray Teale
May 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
MariNaomi
Oct 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Rambling Reader
Oct 11, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Unbelievable writing. Impressive stuff. Can't wait to read more by Thomas Page McBee.

ellie
Feb 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lbgtq
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 ...more
Bryan Cebulski
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
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Michelle
Mar 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebooks, reviewed
"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
...more
M.
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 ...more
Michael
Nov 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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Freddie
Nov 16, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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Will McGrath
Oct 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Kristin Boldon
Mar 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir, mfa, 2019, own
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  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
An absolute stunner of a book and an instant favorite.
Michael Clark
Review to come.
Mees
Jan 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Breathtakingly beautiful.
Erin
Dec 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Shannon
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
Simon
Jun 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
...I fucking devoured this book, and it's going to take me a few days to process (I might also read it again immediately).
Ariel
This was great. Incredibly evocative and moving. Some of my favorite lines:

"I kept my head down, a flush inexplicably spreading up my neck, the frightening, lovely feeling of being seen, the discomforting sense of its fragility, the way I was not myself, not at all."

"I watched her move liquidly back to the chili; her body a whole that functioned together, not like my collection of jangly parts."

"It seemed possible to me, in the dry heat of that courtroom, that heaven was a metaphor for the grace
...more
Cristina
Apr 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What struck me most about this book was how remarkably brave and honest the author is. I'm grateful Thomas allowed us to see this journey from his perspective, and I thoroughly enjoyed this book.
Zoë Ruiz
Thomas Page McBee has written a beautiful and powerful story and I plan to recommend Man Alive to many.
Jonathan Tennis
Jul 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting story about what makes a man.

Some really good writing in here. Highest praise I can give an author is that I would read something else by them (I say this because we have so little time to read all the great books)…I would read more by McBee.

“Every body has a different threshold, but we all know to run eventually; most people don’t realize that. We never forget how to escape.” – p. 51

“I was right to come here. If you want a sense of the real architecture of a person, go to the
...more
Cat
Jun 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lgbt-related
A trans man writing about his transition (among other things), McBee is in a unique position to look at how gender forms us. However this is not a dry sociological study but a memoir that meditates on masculinity and family. It's great to see a story of this kind with a hopeful ending, that does not feel exploitative or sensationalist.
The only objection I had was that the writing style felt like an affectation. It is very thoughtfully written, but in most chapters small events or moments are
...more
Will
Sep 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thomas Page McBee's memoir is powerful and raw. He tells his stories in short chapters on a non-linear timeline which lended well to the book's mix of remembering and reflection. The book focuses around McBee's experiences of childhood sexual assault and a violent mugging. Telling these stories are most of the first chapters which proved to be a bit of a barrier for me--I had a hard time reading detailed accounts of the mugging before bed. This isn't to say that these initial chapters aren't ...more
Larkin Tackett
Dec 02, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is McBee' first book (although I read it second) about violence, masculinity, and his experience as a transgendered man. His simple writing and compelling person stories and reflections made me fly through the book in only a few hours. Other than an episode of Queer Eye and a couple conversations, his book are helping me better understand the experience of someone who transitions and what it can teach us about becoming a man. As someone who was born a woman, McBee has a unique perspective ...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
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“I learned the choruses quick enough to sing along, even though I didn’t particularly like it, just to see what kind of person I’d be if I were someone else altogether.” 1 likes
“I was sure that he and Roy were no different from me; not because we were monsters but because we all have the chance to be more than the worst that’s done to us. If” 1 likes
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