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Arnie the grizzled guru

Schwarzenegger in 1982. Paul Harris/Getty

In his new autobiography-slash-self-help book, Be Useful, Arnold Schwarzenegger “divides his preposterous life into four distinct acts”, says Will Lloyd in The New Statesman. First comes “Arnold the Bodybuilder”: the kid from an Austrian village who conquered the world with “a 57in chest, a 34in waist, 28.5in thighs, 20in calves and a competition weight of 235lbs”. Then came “Arnold the Movie Star”, who took over Hollywood despite speaking, as Robin Williams put it, “less dialogue than any actor, except maybe Lassie”. He received Golden Raspberry nominations for Worst Actor, Worst Supporting Actor and Worst Screen Couple (with a clone of himself) for the 2000 film The 6th Day. Then it was “Arnold the Governor”, who led California – “a state that would be a G7 economy were it a nation” – for two terms.

But in the late 2000s, Schwarzenegger’s life collapsed. It was revealed that he fathered a child with the family housekeeper, and his wife divorced him. The Austrian action man pushed through this dark period to enter his fourth act: “Arnold the grizzled guru”. Be Useful offers readers the toughest of tough love. One chapter is genuinely called “Shut your mouth, open your mind”; the thrust of his advice is to “bend the shape of reality to your will”. Alternative titles for Be Useful might include “Stop Crying You Weakling: If Your Life is Trash That’s Because You’re a Pussy”. But the world is much less malleable than Schwarzenegger appreciates. “The best advice will always be: Know Thyself. Those are not words Be Useful has much time for.”

🪆💩 The book is interspersed “with some of the maddest similes ever printed”. They include: “like being stuck in a clothes dryer with a load of bricks”; “like Viagra for dreams”; and “like trying to move inside a set of Russian nesting dolls full of shit and hair gel”.

Be Useful: Seven tools for life by Arnold Schwarzenegger is available to buy here.