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Editorial Reviews

Editors Select, April 2013 - Mary Roach is willing to “go there” in the name of Science. She has tackled sexual physiology in Bonk, the life of cadavers in Stiff, and now takes on the (not-so-hot) topic of the digestive system in Gulp. This journey begins at the top and ends at the bottom of the legendary alimentary canal, but Roach does not take us there in a straight line. There are side excursions to visit experts in the field of morning breathe and pet-food engineers. We explore the power of salvia and the origin of mythical fire-breathing serpents. By asking seemingly ridiculous questions like, “Does noxious flatus do more than clear a room?” Roach manages to dismiss those common misconceptions we all seem to have but never question out loud. In Gulp she serves-up Science just the way I like it: Well-researched, relevant, offbeat, and hilarious. —Tricia, Audible Editor
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Publisher's Summary

Best-selling author Mary Roach returns with a new adventure to the invisible realm we carry around inside. Roach 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 as our guide, 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.
©2013 Mary Roach (P)2013 Tantor
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

By Sher from Provo on 06-17-13

Nasty subject, Great book!

I LOVED this book. As she did in "Stiff," Mary Roach tackles a less than savory subject with intelligent and humor. I learned a lot of great info about the digestive track, and I laughed out loud at many of Roach's vignettes and explanations. Who knew that ingesting someone else's fecal material could restore your probiotic balance and help you heal, for example? If you have any interest in how the body really works, you will love this book. However, if you are a bit squeamish,you may want to pass. This is not nearly as, well, upsetting as "Stiff," but the subject matter is often inappropriate for "polite company." I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Emily Woo Zeller's narration was spot on. Such a fun listen!

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19 of 22 people found this review helpful


By Mel on 04-05-13

Funtastic Voyage

If Mary Roach taught science, all the kids would earn A's. No, she's not a scientist, and this isn't research to reference on a term paper...but her humorous approach, irreverent wit, and ability to hunt down the most bizarre facts, combine to make any subject she tackles so entertaining and interesting you'll devour every word. One minute she is seriously discussing biology with academicians, the next she is telling the reader to blame those particularly malodorous *floaters* (flatulence) on the dog. Gulp is like her other one-syllable titled books (Stiff, Bonk, Spook), nothing is sacred, and nothing is off limits...including laughing while you learn. Like Isaac Asimov's Fantastic Voyage -- Gulp is a little like boarding a tour bus and being swallowed instead of injected into the human body; Roach is the tour guide/comedian that narrates the trip with an entertaining story, or bizarre fact at every stopping point on the way out. And there's only one way out of the alimentary canal...

Some of the subject matter was a tad gross--even more so than Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers (which I thought was a little better), butt that is part of the tour. You won't want to listen around meal time, and her in-depth (npi) look at the *prison wallet* might have you skipping ahead. But, her trip to the dog food tasting facility, or her conversations with the bean tasters were hilarious. I would never had made it through the interviews, discussing controlled experimentation of flatulence, with a straight face. For all of us that were admonished at sometime for our *irreverent sense of humor* (Ms. B. from Biology and Principal L.)...this one's for you.

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35 of 42 people found this review helpful

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