Publisher's Summary. 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 colorful gym-rat friends in strip clubs and in the homes of the gotham elite. It was a swinging time, when "Would you like to dance?" turned into "Your place or mine?" and the guys with the muscles had all the ladies--until their bodies, like Solotaroff''s, completely shut down.
But this isn't the gloom-and-doom addiction one might expect--Solotaroff looks back at even his lowest points with a wicked sense of humor, and he sends up the disco era and its excess with all the kaleidoscopic detail of Boogie Nights or Saturday Night Fever.
Written with candor and sarcasm, THE BODY SHOP is a memoir with all the elements of great fiction and dazzlingly displays Paul Solotaroff's celebrated writing talent.
Review. “I want muscles All, all over his body (Make him strong enough from his head down to his toes) I want muscles All over him, all over him I want muscles All, all over his body I want muscles I want all I can get All over him, all over him I want muscles, muscles, muscles.”
Muscles written by Michael Jackson and sung by Diana Ross
Paul Solotaroff wanted muscles and lots of them, so he did what any self respecting lifter in the Seventies did: he hit the gym and the juice (steroids). In The Body Shop Solotaroff explains his reckless quest for bulk as follows:
For a good year and a half after I started lifting, I never went two full days without benching and rarely went more than one. I knew nothing about rest periods or tissue synthesis or the dispersal of cellular waste, and I wouldn’t have paid attention if someone had made the point while standing on my chest. Rules were for guys with the time and patience to get big strand by strand, duly marking progress in ten-pound plates and, steady, two-rep gains. Put differently, it was for men who’d gotten laid in adolescence and didn’t have a string of dateless weekends tied around their rears like tin cans. When you’re a twenty-year old male around thousands of girls, none of whom evince even the slightest interest in seeing what you look like with no shirt on, the only anatomy you have patience to study is your own in the weight-room mirror. And for that you’ll make all the time in the world – even if it conflicts with your Physics for Poets class.
Soon Solotaroff’s wish was granted: he no longer looked like the puny Charles Atlas, but the “after” pumped up Atlas. With his new found heft came a gig as a private party male stripper. And with the stripping came the holy trifecta of a young man’s dreams: women, drugs, and money.
The Body Shop follows Solotaroff’s “lost years” stripping and juicing. The memoir works surprisingly well on two levels. First, as a dark comedy of Solotaroff’s life in the mid-seventies as a juiced up Jewish male stripper with literary leanings (the author’s father was a noted editor for literary icons such as Philip Roth and Norman Mailer). Second, the memoir unfolds as a compelling family drama centering on the author’s fitful relationship with his loving, but distant father.
The Body Shop is a well written and comedic book that you will not want to put down!
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company (July 26, 2010), 304 pages. Advance review copy provided courtesy of the publisher.
I'm a reader/commuter in the DC Metro Area. My daily commute to work provides me with ample time to do what I love most: read! Whether its chick lit, literature, memoirs or other non fiction you can always find me with a book.
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