Far from a transgender transition tell-all, here is a personal yet universal story of charting one's course to ultimate self-recognition.
"Thomas Page McBee's Man Alive hurtled through my life. I read it in a matter of hours. It's a confession, it's a poem, it's a time warp, it's a brilliant work of art. I bow down to McBee—his humility, his sense of humor, his insightfulness, his structural deftness, his ability to put into words what is often said but rarely, with such visceral clarity and beauty, communicated."—Heidi Julavits, author of The Vanishers and The Uses of Enchantment
What does it really mean to be a man?
In Man Alive, Thomas Page McBee attempts to answer that question by focusing on two of the men who most impacted his life—one, his otherwise ordinary father who abused him as a child, and the other, a mugger who almost killed him. Standing at the brink of the life-changing decision to transition from female to male, McBee seeks to understand these examples of flawed manhood and tells us how a brush with violence sent him on the quest to untangle a sinister past, and freed him to become the man he was meant to be.
Man Alive engages an extraordinary personal story to tell a universal one—how we all struggle to create ourselves, and how this struggle often requires risks. Far from a transgender transition tell-all, Man Alive grapples with the larger questions of legacy and forgiveness, love and violence, agency and invisibility.
Praise for Man Alive:
"Man Alive is a sweet, tender hurt of a memoir. Thomas Page McBee deftly recounts what has shaped him into the man he has become and how--from childhood trauma to a mugging in Oakland where he learned of his body's ability to save itself. This is a memoir about forgiveness and self-discovery, but mostly it's about love, so much love. McBee takes us in his capable hands and shows us what it takes to become a man who is gloriously, gloriously alive."—Roxane Gay, author of Bad Feminist
"Thomas Page McBee's story of how he came to claim both his past and his future is by turns despairing and hopeful, exceptional and relatable. To read it is to witness the birth of a fuller, truer self. I loved this book."—Ann Friedman, columnist, New York Magazine
"Reading Man Alive is like sitting with someone uncurling his hands, then holding them out to you, open, so that you can behold all the hard-won strength, insight, agility, and love to be found there. 'Whoever's child I am, my body belongs to me,' McBee writes, and his book is an elegant, generous transcription of the journey toward this incandescent, non-aggrandized, life-sustaining form of self-possession—the kind that emanates from dispossession, rather than running from it."—Maggie Nelson author of Bluets and The Art of Cruelty: A Reckoning
"Well aware that memory and identity rarely follow a linear path, Thomas Page McBee attempts to answer the question, 'What does it really mean to be a man?' Weaving past and present to do so, the book's journey connects violence, masculinity and forgiveness. McBee has an intelligent heart, and it beats in every sentence of this gorgeous book."––Saeed Jones, author of Prelude to Bruise
"Following a twisty course marked by multiple switchbacks, Man Alive picks its path through a life pocked by abuse, yearning, violence, danger and desire. The book refuses to cleave to the conventions of other narratives of transition and makes uncertainty the hallmark not only of the past but of the present and the future as well. Exquisitely written and bristling with emotion, this important book reminds us of how much vulnerability and violence inheres to any identity. A real achievement of form and narrative."—Jack Halberstam, author of The Queer Art of Failure
"Man Alive isn't just a story about a transgender man. It's a story about self-discovery. It's a story about patience, forgiveness, kindness and bravery. It's a story told so beautifully and clearly that you can't help but see your own journey in these pages. With this book, Thomas Page McBee has done exactly what we should all strive for: to tell our stories in ways that humanize rather than sensationalize."—Lauren Morelli, writer, Orange Is the New Black
"Thomas Page McBee's memoir grips you like a thriller yet reads with the lyricism of poetry as he details how a brush with violence sent him on quest to untangle a sinister past, and freed him to become the man he was meant to be."—Michelle Tea
About the Author:
Thomas Page McBee was the "masculinity expert" for VICE and writes the columns "Self-Made Man" for The Rumpus and "The American Man" for Pacific Standard. His essays and reportage have appeared in the the New York Times, TheAtlantic.com, Salon, and BuzzFeed, where he was a regular contributor on gender issues. He lives in New York City where he works as the editor of special projects at Quartz, and is currently at work on a book about modern American masculinity.