Charlotte Readers Podcast: Tommy Tomlinson

Tommy Tomlinson

The Elephant in the Room

In this episode, Author Tommy Tomlinson, finalist for the 2005 Pulitzer prize in commentary and longtime local columnist with the Charlotte Observer, reads from The Elephant in the Room: One Fat Man’s Quest to Get Smaller in a Growing America.

Tommy reads and talks about his lifetime struggle with his weight. It’s at times humorous and full of wit and at times its full of depth and tugs at your heart but always, always filled with that human touch that makes Tommy a writer worth reading.

Charlotte Readers Podcast is sponsored by Charlotte Mecklenburg Library.

Learn More About This Episode
Learn More About This Episode

In this episode, Author Tommy Tomlinson, finalist for the 2005 Pulitzer prize in commentary and longtime local columnist with the Charlotte Observer, reads from The Elephant in the Room: One Fat Man’s Quest to Get Smaller in a Growing America.

Tommy reads and talks about his lifetime struggle with his weight. It’s at times humorous and full of wit and at times its full of depth and tugs at your heart but always, always filled with that human touch that makes Tommy a writer worth reading.

Tommy Tomlinson spent 23 years as a reporter and local columnist for the Charlotte Observer, where he was a finalist for the 2005 Pulitzer Prize in commentary. He has written for publications including Esquire, ESPN the Magazine, Sports Illustrated, Forbes, Garden & Gun, and many others. His stories have been chosen twice for the “Best American Sports Writing” series (2012 and 2015) and he also appears in the anthology “America’s Best Newspaper Writing.”

His book “The Elephant In the Room,” a memoir about life as an overweight man in a growing America, has received excellent reviews. His book tour starts this evening, January 15th, at Park Road Books in Charlotte and continues through April.

Tommy is also the host of the podcast “SouthBound” in partnership with WFAE, Charlotte’s NPR station. He has taught at Wake Forest University as well as other colleges, workshops and conferences across the country. He’s a graduate of the University of Georgia and was a 2008-09 Nieman Fellow at Harvard University. Tommy and his wife, Alix Felsing, live in Charlotte.

We start this episode with Tommy reading “Here Comes the Bride and One Lucky Guy.” It’s a column he wrote on his wedding day that some people still carry around with them, and it appears in the book, The Elephant in the Room: One Fat Man’s Quest to Get Smaller in a Growing America published by Simon & Schuster

In this episode, Tommy also reads from the following sections in his new book, The Elephant in the Room:

  • The opening of the book, where Tommy describes the toughest words he’s ever had to write and they are: “I weight 460 pounds.”
  • The section of the book that explains how Tommy got the courage to write the book.
  • The section of the book where Tommy writes about the food on the table at the family gatherings when he was growing up. He quips that it’s the closest he will ever come to writing porn.
  • The section of the book which discusses dieting, and how the formula is pretty simple and inexpensive but not very easy to accomplish.
  • The section of the book on unsolicited advice, which is of no help to Tommy or anyone else struggling with obesity: just eat less and exercise.
  • The section of the book on fast food and how it contributes to a growing America, along with how he used to cheat on his wife with a redhead named Wendy.
  • The section of the book about the hardest thing he had to cut out of his diet.

Tommy ends with a reading that harkens back to his youth, when he was a young teenager in love with pop music that played on such labels as K-Tel and Ronco. He laughs about being a member of the Captain and Tennelle fan club and dishes out titles of the good and the bad of those musical years. His focus of the story is Sammy Johns, the late musician who wrote the hit song in the 70s called “Chevy Van.” Tommy sings a few versus and as Sammy Johns would say, “that’s all right with me.”

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