Title: Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal
Author: Mary Roach
Publication Year: 2013
Publisher: Tantor Audio / W.W. Norton
Edition: audio and print
Reader: Emily Woo Zeller (very good)
Date Completed: June - 2013
Definition of ALIMENTARY CANAL (according to Merriam Webster) : the tubular passage that extends from mouth to anus, functions in digestion and absorption of food and elimination of residual waste, and includes the mouth, pharynx, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, and large intestine.
Who would think reading about digestion would make for an entertaining and informative read? As a fan of this author's earlier non-fiction work: Stiff:The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers, I thought this one might be fun as well. Once again, the author Mary Roach, manages to make this one both informative and entertaining.
In Gulp, the author actually begins with the nose, pointing out that without sniffing, we miss as much as 90 percent of the smells going on around us, and how dogs who hang their heads out of the car windows, and motorcyclists experience something that the rest of us miss. The nose and sniffing also have much to do with tasting. There were some interesting studies with olive oil (some rancid) and cheap wine vs expensive wine. Did you know that Elvis had a colon that was 2-3 times larger than average? Did that contribute to his early death? How much contraband can be transported in "prison wallet" (rectum)? There is even a section on pet food studies that was very good, as well as an investigation on competitive eating, and whether a person can, in fact, eat themselves to death.
The author has written a book which is both entertaining and informative. It was interesting to learn about the many ways that our internal plumbing can fail us, yet even though the subject is serious you'll often smile or even laugh as you read about it. Scientific studies and trials can be dry and boring, but this book is written in a manner that is anything but boring. If you are in the mood for a bit of non fiction and would like to try something different, this one may be the book for you.