Born Round: The Secret History of a Full-time Eater

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9781594202315: Born Round: The Secret History of a Full-time Eater
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The New York Times restaurant critic's heartbreaking and hilarious account of how he learned to love food just enough after decades of wrestling with his weight

Frank Bruni was born round. Round as in stout, chubby, and hungry, always and endlessly hungry. He grew up in a big, loud Italian family in White Plains, New York, where meals were epic, outsize affairs. At those meals, he demonstrated one of his foremost qualifications for his future career: an epic, outsize appetite for food. But his relationship with eating was tricky, and his difficulties with managing it began early.

When he was named the restaurant critic for the New York Times in 2004, he knew enough to be nervous. He would be performing one of the most closely watched tasks in the epicurean universe; a bumpy ride was inevitable, especially for someone whose writing beforehand had focused on politics, presidential campaigns, and the Pope.

But as he tackled his new role as one of the most loved and hated tastemakers in the New York restaurant world, he also had to make sense of a decades-long love-hate affair with food, which had been his enemy as well as his friend. Now he’d have to face down this enemy at meal after indulgent meal. His Italian grandmother had often said, "Born round, you don’t die square." Would he fall back into his worst old habits? Or had he established a truce with the food on his plate?

In tracing the highly unusual path Bruni traveled to become a restaurant critic, Born Round tells the captivating story of an unpredictable journalistic odyssey and provides an unflinching account of one person’s tumultuous, often painful lifelong struggle with his weight. How does a committed eater embrace food without being undone by it? Born Round will speak to every hungry hedonist who has ever had to rein in an appetite to avoid letting out a waistband, and it will delight anyone interested in matters of family, matters of the heart, and the big role food plays in both.

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Review:

Amazon Best of the Month, August 2009: How a man with a lifelong battle of the bulge landed the job as the restaurant critic for the New York Times, the most influential job in the food world, is only half the story (more like a third, really) in Frank Bruni's brave, brutally honest, often hilarious, and truly endearing memoir, Born Round: The Secret History of a Full-Time Eater.

Bruni struggled with over-eating since he was a boy growing up in a food-focused family in White Plains, NY. From adolescence through adulthood, Bruni was on the losing side of maintaining a healthy relationship with food, and eventually his inability to control his hunger--manifested in bulimia, convenience store binges, and bouts of sleep eating--defined his life. There aren't many books out there dealing with what it's like to be a man with an eating disorder. While Bruni's story is peppered with humor, his disgust at himself as he yo-yo's up to size 42 khakis at the Gap and endures years-long patches of celibacy leaves the reader aching in empathy.

Self-doubt about his appearance causes him to sabotage any chances at happiness as he makes lame excuses to postpone dates in the hopes that he'll drop those few extra pounds before he might have to reveal himself. And throughout the book he's banking on being slimmer in the future--whether it's a few days, weeks, or months--and sacrifices truly appreciating the present, even when he's holding prestigious jobs at Newsweek and the New York Times.

"I was in retreat, my weight a reason not to reach out or take risks. I'd deal with my love life once I got thinner.... Fatness simplified life and lessened the stakes. It put life on hiatus, making the present a larded limbo between a past normalcy and a future one. It argued against bold initiatives.... But while I wasn't trying to make things happen, they nonetheless happened to me."


There's a very funny account of how he worked with a photographer friend to digitally manipulate his author photo for Ambling into History in an attempt "to transform the round into the oblong, chubby into chiseled, gone-to-seed to come-to-Papa." When he saw the results of the final photo (the one that would be taped behind the reservation stand of many New York restaurants) his friend wondered: "When was the last time anyone at the publishing house saw you?"

And when he gets the tap to become restaurant critic and leaves his gig as the Times's Rome bureau chief, he begins a preparatory world-tour of eating research before entering an exhausting career of eating out seven nights a week, juggling multiple dining identities (with matching AmEx cards), and becoming one of "the most loved and hated tastemakers in New York." --Brad Thomas Parsons

About the Author:

Frank Bruni was named restaurant critic for the New York Times in April 2004. Before that he served as the newspaper’s Rome bureau chief and as a White House correspondent. His 2002 book about George W. Bush, Ambling into History, was a New York Times bestseller.

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780143117674: Born Round: A Story of Family, Food and a Ferocious Appetite

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ISBN 10:  014311767X ISBN 13:  9780143117674
Publisher: Penguin Books, 2010
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9781410422620: Born Round: The Secret History of a Full-Time Eater (Thorndike Biography)

Thornd..., 2010
Hardcover

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