Synopses & Reviews
"America’s funniest science writer" (Washington Post
) takes us down the hatch on an unforgettable tour. The alimentary canal that Gulp
explores is classic Mary Roach terrain: the questions inspired by our insides 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 names 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 — or has the courage — to ask. And we go on location to a pet-food taste-test lab, a bacteria transplant, and into a live stomach to observe the fate of a meal.
With Roach as our insatiably curious guide, we travel the world, meeting murderers and mad scientists (one is a certain Dr. McNaught, who gleefully sets fire to a young man’s belch), Eskimos (with whom Roach eats the eye of an Arctic char) and exorcists (who have occasionally administered holy water rectally), nuns, terrorists (who, it turns out, for practical reasons do not conceal bombs in their digestive tracts), scammers and schemers, and so we learn about ourselves.
Like all of Roach’s books, Gulp is as much about human beings as it is about human bodies.
"There is much to enjoy about Mary Roach — her infectious aw for quirky science and its nerdy adherents, her one-liners... She is beloved, and justifiably so." Jon Ronson, New York Times Book Review
"As engrossing as it is gross." Entertainment Weekly
"Far and away her funniest and most sparkling book, bringing Ms. Roach's love of weird science to material that could not have more everyday relevance....Never has Ms. Roach's affinity for the comedic and bizarre been put to better use....Gulp is structured as a vastly entertaining pilgrimage down the digestive tract, with Ms. Roach as the wittiest, most valuable tour guide imaginable." Janet Maslin, New York Times
"A delicious read and, dare I say it, a total gas." Kate Tuttle, Boston Globe
"With the same eager curiosity that she previously brought to the subjects of cadavers, space, and sex, the author explores the digestive system, from mouth to colon." New Yorker
"[A] merry foray into the digestive sciences....Inexorably draws the reader along with peristaltic waves of history and vividly described science." Brian Switek, Wall Street Journal
"You'll come away from this well-researched book with enough weird digestive trivia to make you the most interesting guest at a certain kind of cocktail party....Go ahead and put this one in your carry-on. You won't regret it." Amy Stewart, Washington Post
"Gulp is about revelling in the extraordinary complexities and magnificence of human digestion." The Economist
"Relentlessly fun to read." Bee Wilson, The New Republic
"Never before has the process of eating been so very interesting....After digesting her book, you can't help but think about what that really means." Micki Myers, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
"One of my top criteria for pronouncing a book worthwhile is the number of times you snort helplessly with laughter and say, 'Wow! Did you know that...' before your long-suffering spouse throws a book at you from across the room. My personal spouse says that, in this department, Gulp takes the cake." Adam Woog, Seattle Times
The irresistible, ever-curious, and always best-selling Mary Roach returns with a new adventure to the invisible realm we carry around inside.
About the Author
Mary Roach is the author of four previous books: Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void, Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex, Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife, and Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers. Her writing has appeared in Outside, Wired, National Geographic, and the New York Times Magazine, among others. She lives in Oakland, California.