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THE SECRET TO SUPERHUMAN STRENGTH
by Alison Bechdel
Mariner Books. 240 pages, $24.

 

In her latest book, acclaimed cartoonist Alison Bechdel explores the personal through the physical. Whether running, biking, or doing martial arts, Bechdel depicts herself exploring the ways in which she has continually turned to sports and exercise throughout her life, from her early exploration of butch æsthetics as displayed by male fitness models to her introduction to lesbian culture through female self-defense. As an author, Bechdel has always explored the psychological underpinnings of her world, beautifully illustrating the physical dimensions of this world as they are experienced. Here she explores the ways in which her creativity, emotional and physical awareness, and queerness have been tied to the physical spaces in which she has moved at various stages in her life.

            The narrative runs from the 1960s to the present day and includes all the bumps and turns that one would expect. Frame by frame, we learn about her intimate relationships with family members and lovers as well as her search for the transcendent through physical transformation, as Bechdel uses her body as a conduit to delve deeper into her journey as a person and an artist. This latest memoir is a reflection of the physical, psychological, and emotional journey that she has undertaken. It is a testament to the interconnectedness of mind and body by an author who is intimately aware of the relationship between the corporal and the cerebral.

 

Michele Kirichanskaya

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