What should a former bulimic do when offered the position of restaurant critic for The New York Times? Frank Bruni, who has held that hugely influential job for five years, said, ''Yes, thank you, yum, you bet.'' By then, as he chronicles in Born Round, Bruni had won the worst of the battles against his out-of-control appetites. Regular readers of his reviews are probably happy not to have known, until now, that the critic also tried fasting, laxatives, and drugs as slimming shortcuts. Who wants to imagine one of the most powerful food critics in America sticking a finger down his throat after a four-star meal?
With the publication of Born Round, Bruni is giving up his job. And now that he can reveal his face to maître d's, he fills his book with photographs that complement his lively writing style. His love for his extended family, his colleagues and pals, his boyfriends, and even for the personal trainer who helped him whittle down from a blobby 268 pounds, rises off the page like the aroma of a zesty tomato sauce. The downside of all this essential good cheer? Born Round feels a little...thin on crisis! The author was overweight, he stopped vomiting, he slimmed down, and he kept his girth under control even while he was paid to eat: What's the big fat deal? Pass the breadsticks. B+