It is a vital part of our bodies from cradle to grave. Entire industries are built around what we put into our bodies, and civilization is marked by the ability to sanitarily dispose of what comes out. This bodily function is a daily part of our lives, and yet so much of it remains a mystery to the general public. Why is describing tastes so difficult? Indeed, try describing what "gamey" tastes like. Why doesn't the stomach digest itself? Is there really such a thing as "rectal feeding?"
All this and more is covered in "Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal", as author Mary Roach takes us on a journey from the tip of our tongues to the bottom of our, well, bottoms. Do not expect, however, a dry conversation as you might expect from your high school biology class. Roach makes sure to keep wit and humor on high as she discusses even the most taboo of subjects. Even when the book becomes, as Roach herself puts it, "icky," Roach maintains a sense of humor that will keep you interested in learning about the mysteries of our own body.
As Roach noted herself, "Good science writing peels away the blindness, generates wonder, and brings the open palm to the forehead: 'Oh! Now I get it!'" Roach has made quite the name for herself for presenting scientific subjects in a way that's easily digested (pardon the pun) by the non-science mind. Along with writing numerous science articles for major publications, she has written several books; Gulp is her fifth book, following bestsellers Stiff, Spook, Bonk, and Packing for Mars. When she's not traveling the world for research (she has visited all seven continents at least twice), she lives in Oakland CA with her husband and two step-daughters.
"America's funniest science writer" (Washington Post) takes us down the hatch on an unforgettable tour. 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 so 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 who 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), rabbis and terrorists-who, it turns out, for practical reasons do not conceal bombs in their digestive tracts. Like all of Roach's books, Gulp is as much about human beings as it is about human bodies. Download and start listening now!