Friday, May 31, 2013

Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal, by Mary Roach

(hb; 2013: science/nonfiction)


From the inside flap:

"The alimentary canal is classic Mary Roach terrain: the questions explored in Gulp are as taboo, in their way, as the cadavers in Stiff and every bit as surreal as the universe of zero gravity explored in Packing for Mars.  Why is crunchy food so appealing?  Why is it hard to find words for flavors and smells?  Why doesn't the stomach digest itself?  How much can you eat before your stomach bursts?  Can constipation kill you?  Did it kill Elvis?  In Gulp we meet scientists tackle the questions no one else thinks of - or has the courage to ask.  We go on location to a pet-food taste-test lab, a fecal transplant, and into a live stomach to observe the fate of a meal.  With Roach at our side, we travel the world, meeting murderers and mad scientists, Eskimos and exorcists (who have occasionally administered holy water rectally), rabbits and terrorists - who, it turns out, for practical reasons do not conceal bombs in their digestive tracts.

"Like all of Mary Roach's books, Gulp is as much about human beings as it is about human bodies."


Review:

Fun, informative and quirky: Roach delves into the world of the human digestive tract and beyond, chronicling unexpected -- sometimes disconcerting -- results and the often unintentionally hilarious situations that come about. Roach is scientific, yet her writing is approachable for those outside the medical/scientific community. Also, her wit is chuckle-worthy.

This is a memorable and informative read - worth owning.

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