Iron Maidens

First-rate author Kristin Kaye deserves admiration for her immense, unflinching bravery in writing Iron Maidens: The Celebration of the Most Awesome Female Muscle in the World. With deft writing skill and gripping momentum, she bared her evolving personal and professional raw self, exposing every hope, every delusion, misjudgment, rationalization and grief in the rarified experience of her first big break - writing and directing a Broadway show. The pain of her tough and bizarre journey is exquisite, and yet she unfolds the tale in such an engaging way that she allows you to laugh at it all, even eggs you on with her wounds gaping open. Anyone who can do this successfully is irresistible, straight off. Her dream turns into a garish circus with a crazed tiger in the center ring whose leash is tearing apart, and no one will listen to this ringmaster’s warning cries. On top of this steady, jading, black humorist perspective is an equally naked stare into the wild world of professional female bodybuilding.

Kaye weaves her tobogganist tale through the glitzy cusp and seedy underbelly of bodybuilding. She provides a journalistic history on the sport that is arguably one of the most solid and up-to-date accounts available, lays out gritty details of competition dieting, primping and steroid use, all the while building suspense that will have you racing through the pages towards the climax of the Broadway debut. She presents real women from the sport, casting them in an honest light - bleached hair, impossible implants, brazen remarks, stalwart dedication, sensitive embraces and all. Whatever you think about the women in the book and the world of bodybuilding, Kristin leaves you with the distinct impression that you are hearing someone call the shots as she sees them, nothing more, nothing less, with the added bonus of her distinct incisive candor in your ear.

For bodybuilders, this book can be a place to recognize themselves or at least people they know. For thespians, literary types and any bodybuilder with a sense of humor, the effect of reading it is like lounging with friends at two in the morning, capping each others’ jokes until you collapse laughing into the pillows, your body hiccupping because it keeps being funny and you just can’t laugh anymore. Then someone tells a sad secret.

It’s also a valuable resource for information about the sport’s history, a fair look at the battles raging within and around its tenuous survival, and fodder for reflecting on the cultivating legacy. For those who are not familiar with the sport, Kristin not only gives you the nuts and bolts to make you conversant, she takes you on a wild ride you’ll never forget.

Finally, this story is for anyone who has ever found fate in a wrong number, who has aspired to create something meaningful, to be the best she can be, to succeed, and wound up losing control of the plane speeding full-throttle into the mountainside. This is not a book you can walk away from. Whatever your feelings on the many subjects in this book, if you still have a pulse in your cerebellum, you’ll be hooked.

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