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

By Frank Bruni
Binding:Hardcover
Publisher:Penguin Press HC, The, (8/20/2009)
Language:English



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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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"Born Round: The Secret History of a Full-time Eater"
By Frank Bruni

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This book has not been rated


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Amazon.com Review
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 

From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Outgoing New York Times restaurant critic Bruni admits he was even a baby bulimic in his extraordinary memoir about a lifelong battle with weight problems. To his Southern Italian paternal grandmother, food equaled love. Cooking and parenting from Old World traditions, she passed these maternal and culinary principles on to her WASP daughter-in-law, whose own weight struggles her son eventually inherited. Through adolescence, puberty and into college, Bruni oscillated from gluttonous binges to adult bulimia, including laxative abuse. Vocationally, journalism called, first through the college paper, then a progression of internships and staff positions in Detroit and New York, including his stints as a Bush campaign reporter in 2000 and as the Times Rome correspondent. In tandem, Bruni's powerlessness over his appetite developed from cafeteria meals to Chinese delivery binges to sleep eating. While Bruni includes such entertaining bits as the campaign trail seen through Weight Watcher lens and ample meals from his years as the Times restaurant critic, in the end, his is a powerful, honest book about desire, shame, identity and self-image. (Sept.) 
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. 

Review
"Among all the 'foodie' books that have been published lately--praising food, relishing food, exploring food, celebrating food--Frank Bruni's memoir stands utterly alone. This book is an intricate, honest, and sometimes painful examination of one man's extremely complex lifelong relationship with eating, and with overeating. What happens when a professional dieter--one who has struggled since childhood with binging, fasting, shame, and other extreme forms of caloric anxiety--is invited, ironically enough, to become a professional food critic? There is much pathos in this story, and humor, and ultimately wisdom. I have always admired Frank Bruni in the past; I admire him more now, for this brave piece of culinary truth telling."
--Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love

"Frits, false mustaches, and sleep broiling? In warmth, breadth, and beautiful writing, Born Round is--to borrow a phrase--Flintstonian."
--David Sedaris, author of Me Talk Pretty One Day and When You Are Engulfed in Flames

"Frank Bruni has written a food memoir for our time, plumbing the depths of our personal and collective eating disorders. By turns shocking and hilarious, Born Round is as addictive as Chinese sesame noodles and as satisfying as Grandma Bruni's lasagne."
--Michael Pollan, author The Omnivore's Dilemma and In Defense of Food

"A book about rambunctious hunger and appetite--for life as much as food--that is underscored with a profound yearning. Born Round is, quite simply, beautifully written and makes for greedy reading. It sounds like the most terrible cliché to say 'I devoured it,' but I did!"
--Nigella Lawson, author of How to Be a Domestic Goddess and Nigella Bites

"Born Round is a lovely and very funny memoir of one man's lifelong struggles with food and weight. I laughed out loud a number of times, and groaned with recognition of both my own madness and healing. I love Mr. Bruni's stories about his family, his secret life, his friends, his path through the swamps and morass of overeating, and most of all, his quietly brilliant writing."
--Anne Lamott, author of Grace (Eventually) and Traveling Mercies

"Food is a tricky addiction. Unlike with alcohol, you can't simply stop eating. This memoir of a man battling his formidable food demons will resonate for anybody who has ever worried that 'I'd gain five pounds and tip the scales against me.' The reader cannot help but feel both a kinship and affection for him. Born Round offers companionship and redemption for every man--or woman--who struggles with their own body image"
--Augusten Burroughs, author of Running with Scissors and Dry

"Anyone who has ever eaten a huge and delicious meal, gone on a diet, or--best of all--eaten a huge and delicious meal while on a diet will relish this charming memoir. Frank Bruni's wit and candor as he recounts his lifelong love-hate relationship with food will make you laugh, wince, and covet the chance to be his dinner companion."
--Curtis Sittenfeld, author of Prep and American Wife

"Born Round is delizioso! If this book were a restaurant, people would be lined up around the block to get in. This is a moving, joyous, and poignant memoir filled with unforgettable characters and a story to savor. Frank Bruni, the full-time eater, has a full-time fan."
--Adriana Trigiani, bestselling author of Lucia, Lucia and Very Valentine

"Born Round is a feast of a book, the epic story of a man’s lifelong obsession with food. Frank Bruni's memoir is entertaining, unexpectedly touching, and at times shockingly honest. Reading it made me laugh, and it also made me hungry."
--Tom Perotta, author of The Abstinence Teacher 

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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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