The Fattest Man in America

I guess it's only right and proper if I begin with my name, Mickey. That's what you'd call my business name, my stage name. I was given it by Hiram Cutler, my business manager, my erstwhile business manager as I should say, I haven't seen Hiram too much lately. Mickey's the name most folk in Drake know me by. To my family, my flesh and blood, my ma and my sisters, to Martha, I'm Michael.

I've been called a good few other names over the years. The Colossus of Drake, to take but one. The King of Fat, to take another. My body has been described as a monument of fat. That's how people think of me, it's my defining characteristic. I'm not podgy, not tubby, not chubby, not stout or overweight. I'm fat. Extremely and excessively fat. The medical term is obese; I was clinically obese years and years ago.

I'm not ashamed of it. People try to hide their fat, you know? On account of being ashamed. They wear loose-fitting clothes, they breathe in, they cheat on the scale. You know? There's no one else watching but they adjust the dial so they seem lighter than they are. I've never been like that. I know I'm fat, I've always known it, and I've never tried to hide the fact. There wouldn't be no point. I used to ask folk who'd come to see me, in the early days, how heavy d'you think I am? They were always way off, unless they'd been told in advance. They'd stand frowning, scratching their heads and sizing me up, chins cupped, before guessing: four hundred pound? five hundred?

Nope, I'd say. No sir. No ma'am.

Six hundred? Six fifty?

Keep going.

It's a commonplace how big numbers cease to mean much. Like the distance from here to the nearest star, excluding the sun. I guess it's maybe the same with someone in a visual sense. When you go off the end of the scale, you go off the end of the scale.

Link Read reviews of the novel
Link Read Christopher Nicholson on the writing of 'The Fattest Man in America'