inspiration

Fierce Femmes and Notorious Liars

How many books have you read of trans people? By trans people? Good ones?

Fierce Femmes and Notorious Liars by Kai Cheng Thom stands out for its distinction of being one of its kind (which is unfortunate). But it also stands out for being lovely and brave.

The memoir is dark, but written with so much brightness that it made me forget how rough her life has been. The aliases she uses, and the fantastical descriptions of events and places are reminiscent of bedtime stories. In reality, it is like the Grimm’s Brothers’ stories – distressing and disorienting, but fashioned in palatable and affable ways.

The poetry in between is poignant. It’s about a pocket knife and the inevitability of having to have one. There’s also a poem about being femme. It reads like a song.

This one is one of those kind of books that affects one’s belief systems. Did you know how very normal it is to be exploited for surgery, for trans people? It was described so casually in this book, that I felt ashamed, illogically and idiotically.

My only grouse is the extent to which she goes to shroud all places’ names. So while the memoir is a real story, it’s also under velvety wraps, with names like “City of Gloom” and “City of Shadows and Lights”. Sigh.

A short read. A good read. One of those kinds that you wish was longer. 4/5.

Finding Ultra

This is a review of the book, Finding Ultra,¬†Revised and Updated Edition: Rejecting Middle Age, Becoming One of the World’s Fittest Men, and Discovering Myself, by Rich Roll. Rich Roll describes himself on his website as a “Plantpowered Wellness Advocate, Bestselling Author, Ultra-Athlete”. Credibility, established.

The story is great, the narrative poor. Read the book to know how the guy transforms his life and competes in Ultraman Championships and Ironman Championships. And if you’re listening to the audiobook, listen to it at *2 speed.

I think every runner can relate to portions of the book, like the description of pain while training, the laziness that creeps in, poor training methodology (do you know what a Z2 zone of training is? Ha!), the gluttonous monster within us all (somewhat like the Blerch), etc.

Unlike other books in the genre of running (Eat and Run, The Perfect Mile, Born to Run), though, this book is not an essential book for people who enjoy the sport, or for people who are looking to improve by fixing some chink in their armour. For Roll, the suffering is all mental, the physical struggles are easily surpassed. Poof. Unlike most of us, Rich is able to run a 10 miler right off the bat, within months of feeling dizzy while climbing a flight of stairs; he is able to stick to a diet without any problems; he is also able to manage his personal life and professional life without too many gliches; and he has a support system that sounds like it’s pulled right off the “Ideal Boy”/”Ideal Family”charts. Good for him, but it made me feel alien.

Rich Roll’s story is peppered with way too many references to plant-based eating (which even Jurek mentions in his book, but not so obsessively). Plantpowered still sounds corny to me, despite the infinite number of times it’s mentioned int he book. Plantpowered, really!¬†Also, this book is a little too preachy for my liking. From page 270 – when I thought the book was set on a tangent to describing more insane endurance sports – it became all self-help (a genre I dislike). There’s also a part where he lambasts the government (of USA) for its agricultural subsidy policy. If you were me, you’d stop right where he finishes five Ironman distances in less than seven days. Unfortunately, it doesn’t get better after that.

Overall, the book is a quick and decent read for anyone who is into endurance sports; and especially so if one is looking for inspiration to turn one’s life around. Bottomline: If a severely alcoholic and obese person can become an Ultraman and more, you can roll out of bed and do that 5k this Sunday.

It’s a 3/5 from me. If you have checked his podcast out, please feel free drop a message about it!