by Alison Bechdel
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.
"[Bechdel] makes a strong case for the intrinsic interconnectedness of creativity, spirituality, and an elevated heart rate . . . The Secret to Superhuman Strength could stand alone as an entertaining look back at the rise of various American workout trends. But it's much more than that . . . With this book, Bechdel establishes her place in a long line of progressive thinkers who have sought spiritual growth via physical activity."--Outside
"Color? It's the first sign that something new is afoot in a book full of familiar flourishes [including] the figure of Bechdel herself, drawn as a bit of a cross between Tintin and Waldo, vibrating with anxiety, doing her best to flee herself on bike or skis or simply afoot....It's [an] accumulating ease we feel in this book--a supple, loose-limbed grace; an absence of fear that translates into simplicity, discipline and modesty."--New York Times
Alison Bechdel's cult following for her early comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For expanded wildly for her family memoirs, the best-selling graphic memoir Fun Home, adapted into a Tony Award-winning musical, and Are You My Mother? Bechdel has been named a MacArthur Fellow and Cartoonist Laureate of Vermont, among many other honors. Her new memoir, The Secret to Superman Strength, is forthcoming in 2021.