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Born Round: The Secret History of a Full-time Eater Hardcover – August 20, 2009
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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
From Publishers Weekly
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Read the first chapter of Frank Bruni's Born Round [PDF].
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Top Customer Reviews
His descriptions of food loved and memories of childhood foods and his Italian family can make you laugh in pure pleasure and remembrance. His ability to draw you into his feelings and life are readily apparent from the first page to the last; including his marvelous description as the middle child caught between the charismatic and confident older brother and the younger space cadet. Ah yes, but Frank can out eat any one and so begins his war with his body and proceeds with his narratives of what he's thinking and the food obsessions as he goes through his high school, college and professional years.
So many of us can identify with dates postponed, old friends put off because weight has been gained and the diets that will start Monday with a binge before the diet and failure by Wednesday.
This book is an interesting read, but could just as well be used as psychological study, one that can explain the lure of food to those who just don't understand. It can also be a cathartic read for those of us that struggle - you aren't the only one out there - recognize the cop outs we use: it must be the weight ...I'm not getting dates, not getting invited to parties, not getting promoted. This can allow you to see yourself or someone you care about.Read more ›
Bruni is a great writer. This book is engulfing. It's a, forgive the phrase, entertaining melancholy, of sorts. It's no small task to write an autobiography that is always interesting, and for the most part, this book is. Most often, I skip the "childhood chapters" in such books, but here I found myself engrossed, and reading them. Perhaps it was because I've had to fight this struggle, myself.
The transformation from being a slave to food, to liberated under it... truly, Mr. Bruni has conquered so much. We all must find peace with our ways of life, and this is not a tale about a struggle with food (well it is, of course) but so much the story of a man who has conquered his inner demons to fulfill his potential. It's inspiring and encouraging to read.
The rest of the book, the yo-yo dieting, the struggle with weight that Frank Bruni went through got less and less interesting to me. Page after page and chapter after chapter... I struggled along with Frank just trying to get through the book.
It's worth reading if you are interested in what someone might go through to keep their weight at a level which they are happy with. And some of the ways he tried to do that were indeed fascinating to read. But, for me, the parts of the book that really shine include his family and food.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I love about this book its humanity. It is generous and benevolent. It exemplifies the honesty it extols in its conclusion. The book is good humored. Read morePublished 5 days ago by science reader
I was disappointed in this story. I kept wanting more and never found it.Published 5 months ago by cathy clark
A decent enough book about Bruni, he focus's on his weight struggles, sexuality and his journalistic endeavors. While I enjoyed this book, the ending felt rushed and incomplete. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Jean Marie Haas
One of the best memoirs on the simple act of eating...which isn't so simple to some. Stunning and honest writing.Published 12 months ago by Brian Garrido
I picked up Born Round because of my own struggles with food but was pleasantly surprised to find how much I related to Franks upbringing in a large Italian family where food (very... Read morePublished 13 months ago by Karin c