ONE OF NPR'S BEST BOOKS OF 2019
A "warm and funny and honestgenuinely unputdownable" (Curtis Sittenfeld) memoir chronicling what it's like to live in today's world as a fat man, from acclaimed journalist Tommy Tomlinson, who, as he neared the age of fifty, weighed 460 pounds and decided he had to change his life.
When he was almost fifty years old, Tommy Tomlinson weighed an astonishing—and dangerous—460 pounds, at risk for heart disease, diabetes, and stroke, unable to climb a flight of stairs without having to catch his breath, or travel on an airplane without buying two seats. Raised in a family that loved food, he had been aware of the problem for years, seeing doctors and trying diets from the time he was a preteen. But nothing worked, and every time he tried to make a change, it didn't go the way he planned—in fact, he wasn't sure that he really wanted to change.
In The Elephant in the Room, Tomlinson chronicles his lifelong battle with weight in a voice that combines the urgency of Roxane Gay's Hunger with the intimacy of Rick Bragg's All Over but the Shoutin'. He also hits the road to meet other members of the plus-sized tribe in an attempt to understand how, as a nation, we got to this point. From buying a Fitbit and setting exercise goals to contemplating the Heart Attack Grill in Las Vegas, America's "capital of food porn," and modifying his own diet, Tomlinson brings us along on a candid and sometimes brutal look at the everyday experience of being constantly aware of your size. Over the course of the book, he confronts these issues head-on and chronicles the practical steps he has to take to lose weight by the end.
"What could have been a wallow in memoir self-pity is raised to art by Tomlinson's wit and prose" (Rolling Stone). Affecting and searingly honest, The Elephant in the Room is an "inspirational" (The New York Times) memoir that will resonate with anyone who has grappled with addiction, shame, or self-consciousness. "Add this to your reading list ASAP" (Charlotte Magazine).