The problem with Tommy Tomlinson’s inspirational new book is that reading it will make you hungry ... His clean and witty and punchy sentences, his smarts and his middle-class sensibility made me yearn for the kind of down-to-earth columnist I often read in the 1980s and 1990s but barely seems to exist any longer ... Tomlinson may not be for everyone. Like Rick Bragg, he can sometimes seem like a Southern boy with just a bit too much syrup in him. If tears and frequent use of the word 'mama' set your teeth on edge, he may start to resemble, in your mind, a pre-moistened towelette ... As for me, I loved this book. I found myself sneak-reading it from the moment it came in the door. As with a sack of White Castle burgers, I hated to reach the end.
Swings from moments of raw emotional candor to laugh-out-loud humor ... As I read this heart-felt memoir, I couldn’t help but be reminded of Rick Bragg’s wonderful book All Over But the Shoutin’. Like Bragg, Tomlinson is a gifted Southern storyteller with an exceptional sense of humor, one that easily rivals author Bill Bryson ... Page after page, readers will find themselves rooting for Tomlinson.
What could have been a wallow in memoir self-pity is raised to art by Tomlinson’s wit and prose ... The greatest asset of The Elephant In The Room is that Tomlinson frames his struggle in a way that makes it universal, whether your downfall is food, an exciting but disastrous life partner, or some other unconquerable temptation. By the end, Tomlinson doesn’t so much defeat his obesity, as battle it to a well-understood draw. Days are won days are lost. For most of us, that’s the best-case scenario.