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Book Review: Chemical Pink

Katie Arnoldi has written a most bizarre book about the world of competitive female bodybuilding. I’m not talking about the figure or fitness competitions. I mean the gigantic women with slabs of muscle that I could never develop in my wildest dreams. Chemical Pink female bodybuilder is about a single mother who has financial troubles, which doesn’t at all help her dream of winning a bodybuilding title. Enter a weird little sugar daddy who agrees to fund her pharmaceutical needs and supply her with a trainer as well.

In return, she has to indulge his rather exotic tastes. Some of what transpires between the two in this absurd, co-dependent relationship is silly, much of it is unsettling, and I think all of it borders on satire. I hope so, at least.

The most interesting parts to me were those of her actual training. Author Arnoldi was herself a competitive bodybuilder, so the scenes in the gyms and involving the massive amounts of pharmaceuticals she must take truly felt like an insider’s view to me. It’s definitely not a view of anything I have any interest in being involved with, but that’s true with many of the books I read and love.

I didn’t love Chemical Pink. It is beyond over-the-top, if that is possible. But it did get me to finish it, something not every book can do. My affinity for anything related to weight training got me through the more grotesque parts. I have talked since with several women I am friendly with, all of which are heavily involved in strength training. They have all apparently enjoyed Arnoldi’s book of bodybuilding excess, if not necessarily finding anything in it to identify with.

I’d recommend this book to anyone who likes to read anything and everything about the culture of fitness, fans of female bodybuilding, and aspiring pharmacists.

Good, not great, but fun in parts.I think the subtitle says it all: a novel of obsession. Interesting, but potentially off-putting to non-obsessives.

Josh

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Jenn September 26, 2010, 8:59 am

    I’ve done two figure competitions (which are a division of bodybuilding contests) for fun despite not fitting the stereotype at all and the bodybuilding subculture is oddly fascinating to me. At my first show, I had a mini break down in the dressing room. There was something about all the muscles, oil, implants, tanners, and, nakedness combined with a massive lack of sleep and culture shock that got to me. As soon as I felt the tears swelling I went out back to compose myself but had to make my way through a throng of big oily guys in in glittered speedos. It was very surreal.

    The oddities you find in a particular subculture would be interesting but I don’t think I could get through stuff that is beyond over the top. I think it would annoy me and I don’t like being annoyed when I’m reading.