Fat Boys


Fat Boys

A Slim Book

Sander L. Gilman

324 pages


January 2011


$25.00 Add to Cart

About the Book

The fat man—a cultural icon, a social enigma, a pressing medical issue—is the subject of this remarkably rich book. The figures that Sander L. Gilman considers, from the ugly fat man with the beautiful sylph trapped inside to the smart fat boy to the aging body desirous of rejuvenation, appear and reappear in different guises throughout Western culture. And as is often true, such marginal cases help define the shifting center of our dreams and beliefs. An exploration into the world of male body fantasies, Gilman’s book examines how the representation of the fat man alters with time and alters how men relate to their own bodies and the bodies of others, both male and female. His examples—ranging from Santa Claus to Sancho Panza, from Falstaff to Babe Ruth, from Nero Wolfe to Al Roker—illustrate the complexity perennially associated with fat men. From discourses about normality to the playing fields of baseball, from Greek male beauty to the fat detective, Gilman’s book examines and illuminates how cultures have imagined and portrayed the fat boy.

Author Bio

Sander L. Gilman is Distinguished Professor of the Liberal Arts and Sciences at Emory University and is the author of numerous books, including Jewish Frontiers: Essays on Bodies, Histories, and Identities; Smart Jews: The Construction of the Image of Jewish Superior Intelligence (Nebraska 1996); and Fat: A Cultural History of Obesity.


“Gilman opens a valuable conversation about the cultural history of obesity that examines how we have come to understand—and misunderstand—the condition.”—New York Times Book Review

“Forcefully written and very well timed. . . . Entertaining.”—Elaine Showalter, Times Literary Supplement

“Gilman uncovers the surprising complexity associated with fat men in a clear and succinct manner.”—Library Journal

“This amusing historical and literary review ranges widely, covering subjects such as Santa Claus, the Nutty Professor, and gastric bypass surgery.”—Choice

“A welcome survey of representations of male obesity in western culture. Historian Sander Gilman uses character studies of what he terms ‘fat boys’ from antiquity to the present, to ‘negotiate the complexities of defining the healthy and the ill.’”—Carolyn Thomas de la Peña, American Studies

Table of Contents

Introduction: Fat Is a Man's Issue
1. Fat Boys in the Cultural History of the West
2. Fat Boys Writing and Writing Fat Boys
3. Patient Zero: Falstaff
4. How Fat Detectives Think (And Fat Villains Act)
5. Fat Ballplayers and the Bodies of Fat Men
Conclusion: Cutting into the Future of Fat Boys

Also of Interest