Anita's Reviews > Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal

Gulp by Mary Roach
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's review
May 09, 2013

it was amazing
bookshelves: non-fiction-read

Mary Roach has done it again. She has created a book that I purposely read slowly so I could savor every bite, picture, and footnote*. This time she takes us on a trip down the Alimentary Canal, from nose, tongue, and teeth to the bitter end of the trail with all the explorers, characters, scientists, and even Elvis to enlighten us on our way. Roach has a way of taking you along this field trip asking all the questions that you know you wouldn't have the guts to ask, of the professionals who are passionate about your gastrointestinal tract. As always, I learned a lot, laughed a lot, and dreaded to see the last page. If you've ever had a colonoscopy, constipation, heartburn, or were interested in medicine or history, this book is for you.
I also learned a thesaurus' worth of terms for excreta, including my favorite--digestive ash. I am prepared for prison with details and the slang used for "hooping" a phone into maximum security. I know the seriousness of constipation, the wonder of saliva, the strength of my jaws and the wisdom of the anus.
As always her eye and ear for the interesting, bizarre, and absurd make wonderful reading. This time I also noticed a universal truth that bears some thought. As a teacher I've seen thousands of names, and I know enough that you don't name a child Destiny, Brandy, or Jeeves for fear of setting up the expectations of a career. I even always enjoyed reading anything about earthquakes by the renowned seismologist Dr. Waverly Person. This book not only enlightens you on human biology, but also explores the name-fate/destiny factor. I only noticed this halfway through the book, but look at the power of names for these individuals: Dr. Doctor Willard Bliss--James Garfield's doctor; gastroenterologist, Dr. Terdman; flautus researcher, Colin Leakey; and Dr. Crapo, a researcher into manure pit deaths. Take care in naming your children.
Mary Roach is a national treasure. She makes science fun, scientists human, and the world around us and in us understandable and awe inspiring. My only regret is that I will have to wait two years for her next book. She is definitely not full of digestive ash.

*Only one of my many favorites; "The human disgestive tract is like the Amtrak line from Seattle to Los Angeles: transit time is about thirty hours, and the scenery on the last leg is pretty monotonous."
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Reading Progress

May 9, 2013 – Started Reading
May 9, 2013 – Shelved
May 9, 2013 – Shelved as: to-read
May 17, 2013 – Shelved as: non-fiction-read
May 17, 2013 – Finished Reading

Comments (showing 1-6 of 6) (6 new)

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message 1: by Elena (new) - added it

Elena Love Mary Roach! Can't wait to read this!

message 2: by Erin (new)

Erin I suppose I'll need to read this one! I keep singing "fifteen miles on the alimentary canal" but I don't think that's right....

Anita Yes, you will. We will be able to exchange excreta synonyms. Wait, that's what we already do--we will just have more of them to exchange.

Jeannine It's the Erie canal - learned that song in elementary about 100 years ago
- way out of sync these days.

Jeannine Great review, Anita. I wondered about her fascination with appropriate last names until I remembered hers. Roaches can go anywhere. Only one complaint - I would have liked an index.

message 6: by [deleted user] (new)

is there a pun intended with this book?

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