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Five Questions For Frank Bruni

Long-time New York Times restaurant critic Frank Bruni has written a new memoir Born Round: The Secret History of a Full-time Eater.

JG: What inspired you to write this book?

FB: When, in 2004, the New York Times offered me the job of restaurant critic and I and people close to me marveled at the irony of that offer, I thought, "There's a real story in the explanation of why this is such an ironic twist." I'd spent so much of life not just loving food but being tyrannized by it, and being unable to forge a truly healthy relationship with it, and I realized that the fact that I'd at long last arrived at a point where I and others might consider professional eating a suitable occupation for me - well, that seemed worth examining. It seemed to me that there was a tale in there.

JG: What surprised you the most during the writing process?

FB: How very sad I felt when writing the passages that dealt with my mid-30s, when I ballooned up to 275 pounds, give or take, and size 42 pants. In writing those passages I took inventory of all the ways I retreated from the world, all the people I cut off and opportunities I let slip, and while I was aware to some extent of what was happening at the time, I didn't let myself feel as sad and mad about it then as I felt when I revisiting those years in the writing.

JG: What would you be doing, if you weren't a writer?

FB: I have no idea. In school I was always interested in science as well as writing: the classes I did best in in high school were organic chemistry and other really advanced science classes. Maybe I would have been a doctor. I flirted with that thought back then.

JG: What else are you reading right now?

FB: In the last few months I've been so busy both winding up as New York Times restaurant critic and beginning to promote "Born Round" that I haven't had much time for pleasure reading. And I've wanted to read lighter stuff. I recently read Michael Connelly's "Echo Park," because it was one of the few police procedural-mysteries of his I hadn't read. I read Lisa Lutz's "The Spellman Files." Also Tana French's In the Woods. And my friend Jennifer Steinhauer's terrifically funny take on L.A. life, Beverly Hills Adjacent.

JG: What's next for you?

FB: In early to mid October I'll begin writing full time for the New York Times Sunday magazine, where I'll do stories not only about food but also about politics, culture, even international affairs. I've covered all of that in my time at the Times, and I like that kind of variety.