Okay, I admit I read this one. I want to read some non-fiction because it’s “smarter” but nothing dull. I found that Arnold Schwarzenegger’s memoir, Total Recall: My Unbelievably True Life Story, published last November, was just what I needed.
At 656 pages, the memoir – like its author – is not small and so it felt like I was reading this for ages. But it was enjoyable throughout in no small part due to the continuously interesting story and the voice. Particularly in the beginning, it read a bit like a young man’s diary, when Arnold’s pursuits were a little more self-centered like becoming the best bodybuilder and movie star. Even as he ages, he is focused on relaying the facts, not getting philosophical and maintaining a confident voice and simple writing style. When he does add in the details, his personality comes through, especially if I try to hear his voice in my head.
We know so much about the man already but it was really nice to fill in the details: the rigorous training that went into bodybuilding and how much of a promoter of the sport he is; the real estate portion that contributed so much to his wealth and was new to me and doesn’t constitute a separate “chapter” of his life; all of background that showed his interest in politics leading to him running for public office; and the particulars of his two terms in office – my overall impression was it wasn’t glorious when he left but what were the high points?
There is so much we already know about Arnold so the only “suspense” for me was how he was going to handle the affair. Was he going to mention it – did it even make publication deadline? Yes, because the memoir was published only last year and the affair came to light several years ago. How would he approach it? With a similar “manly” way as his other relationships, in a way, and tells it as it is. He doesn’t wax poetic about anyone except Maria and when he got to “The Secret”, the last chapter, I realized how the memoir is an apology to her (where she’s mentioned) and I melted a little as he wrote that he’s waiting and working and hopeful they will get back together.
I was reading this for so long (since before May until the beginning of August) that there was a lot of time to observe some curious effects:
- When we went to California in May, I wanted to visit Muscle Beach portion of Venice Beach – we didn’t though because Venice Beach looked a little skeevy.
- My new appreciation of body building came through when NPY and I were gossiping about a colleague of his who is a fitness model and I was talking to a colleague who is entertaining the idea of being a bodybuilder in the bikini model class. We all know how resistance training is so essential but I cannot say that reading the memoir has effected any real change in my routine.
- My indignation when I saw a Facebook post liked by my BIL (I think the page is called “S Lifts”?) where a woman preparing for a bodybuilding competition showed her new purchases including stilettos, rhinestone bangles and blinged out bikini. It sickened me that it’s not good enough for her to be unadorned. But… I don’t know the whole story or what their male counterparts have to do.
- I saw that CBC was airing The Passionate Eye: The Kennedy Saga (originally aired in 2010), PVR’ed it right away and watched it soon after, unlike other PVR’ed shows languishing on the recorder unwatched.
- And when Arnold stopped by Jimmy Fallon’s The Tonight Show in March (we probably only watched the episode some time in April or May), of course I watched it!