The Charlotte Observer (Sunday) - - Front Page - BY DANNYE ROMINE POWELL dpow­[email protected]­lot­teob­server.com

For­mer Ob­server colum­nist Tommy Tom­lin­son writes about his big­gest strug­gle in his de­but book.

You think you know some­body.

Then that some­body writes a mem­oir about the most in­ti­mate de­tails of his life.

You re­al­ize you didn’t know him. Not re­ally.

Le­gions of Ob­server read­ers be­lieve they know Tommy Tom­lin­son.

Af­ter all, he wrote a prize-win­ning col­umn for 15 years (1997-2012). He wrote about fall­ing in love with his wife. He wrote about his mom and his sis­ter and grow­ing up in Brunswick, Ga. All sorts of things that re­vealed the big heart of the man be­hind the photo.

But you won’t fully know him un­til you read his de­but book, “The Ele­phant in the Room: One Fat Man’s Quest to Get Smaller in a Grow­ing Amer­ica.” (Si­mon & Schus­ter, $27.)

Here, in prose hon­est enough to raise blis­ters on your own skin, Tommy, who now hosts WFAE’s pod­cast “South­bound,” tells what it was like to grow up fat, and how frus­trat­ing it is try­ing to lose weight.

As he puts it, telling a fat per­son to lose weight by ex­er­cis­ing and eat­ing less is like telling a boxer: Don’t get hit.

“On top of that,” he writes, “some of us fight holes in our souls that a box­car of donuts couldn’t fill.”

Tom­lin­son was a 2005 Pulitzer fi­nal­ist in com­men­tary, and his work has made two ap­pear­ances in “Best Amer­i­can Sports Writ­ing.” He spent a year at Har­vard as a Nie­man Fel­low. But no mat­ter his ac­com-

Cour­tesy of Tommy Tom­lin­son

Tommy with his mother.

JOHN D. SIM­MONS jsim­[email protected]­lot­teob­server.com

Tommy Tom­lin­son’s new book is “The Ele­phant in the Room: One Fat Man’s Quest to get Smaller in a Grow­ing Amer­ica.”

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