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Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal | [Mary Roach]

Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal

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?
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Audible Editor 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

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

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.0 (1142 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Jane Rogers, AR 09-08-13
    Jane Rogers, AR 09-08-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "INTERESTING!!!"

    This is such an interesting book. A messy subject written in a light and interesting hand. But beware! It is not one for those who have a delicate stomach. Some of the historical animal research was difficult to know about although it was put in the book to support ideas and not for shock value,

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jean Yucaipa, CA, United States 09-07-13
    Jean Yucaipa, CA, United States 09-07-13 Member Since 2006
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    "Better to read than listen to"
    What disappointed you about Gulp?

    I've read all of Mary's books which are hysterical! However, I just could not listen to this one! Can't decide if it was narrator or what but I'll have to buy the hard copy and give it a try. Could not keep my attention!


    Would you recommend Gulp to your friends? Why or why not?

    Only to read, not listen


    How did the narrator detract from the book?

    Didn't have the comedic timing right - Mary's book have a lot of humor - has to be delivered properly.


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    disappointment big time. I love her books


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    gaillardia Larkspur, Colorado, United States 09-06-13
    gaillardia Larkspur, Colorado, United States 09-06-13 Member Since 2010
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    "Great info, but horrible narration"
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    As always, Mary Roach did her research and provided some very interesting information, but it wasn't her best work. It did not have the humor and bite that are characteristic of her books.


    If this book were a movie would you go see it?

    The narrator gave each scientist interviewed a different accent, and it was distracting at best. I hated the narration so much that I would never recommend the audiobook. Get it in print, or as an ebook, instead.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    K. Daniels Chicago, IL United States 08-15-13
    K. Daniels Chicago, IL United States 08-15-13 Member Since 2011

    infinies2

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    "A little underwhelming"
    What disappointed you about Gulp?

    The narrator did different "voices" for different people mentioned in the book, which has a distracting, cartoony influence on the listening experience. Plus, it seems Roach was more interested in pursuing the "ick" factor than in detailing a broad scope of information about the digestive system. She didn't really mention the liver, pancreas, or small intestine, for instance, and spent a ton of time on saliva without much time on the tongue. All in all, I would have preferred more information with less forced cleverness.


    What could Mary Roach have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    See above. Broadening the scope and not assuming what would gross out the reader might have led to a more appealing book.


    What did you like about the performance? What did you dislike?

    As I mentioned above, the narrator did a lot of cartoony voices, which didn't appeal to me. She did have a clear, exact voice and good pronounciation, but sounded a little "actor-y" to me.


    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Gulp?

    Didn't need as much time with the cows' stomachs, would have liked more breadth of the digestive organs and their roles, such as the liver, pancreas, and tongue.


    Any additional comments?

    Not terrible, but I've read other Mary Roach and this is probably my least favorite of hers. Stiff and Spook were great.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    amanda APO, AP, United States 08-09-13
    amanda APO, AP, United States 08-09-13 Member Since 2011
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    4
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    "Great"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Gulp to be better than the print version?

    yes, this was so fun to listen to! great narration!


    Any additional comments?

    What a fun book, interesting and entertaining, and I def learned about the human body!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ethan Burbank, CA, United States 08-07-13
    Ethan Burbank, CA, United States 08-07-13 Member Since 2013
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    "Scientific Curiosity Overrides the Ick Factor"

    I really enjoyed my first foray into the world of Mary Roach (I know, how did I, not pay any attention to her until now?). Her conversational style was perfect for an audio book and the subject matter was utterly fascinating for me (because my scientific curiosity always exceeds a traditional ick factor that this book would hold for most). My only complaint is that the conversational manner of the work was sometimes distracting to me because of a seeming lack of organization and separation of topics.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michelle Brown New Orleans, LA United States 07-30-13
    Michelle Brown New Orleans, LA United States 07-30-13 Member Since 2012
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    "Love Mary Roach, the narrator less so"
    Where does Gulp rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Gulp ranks pretty high. In some ways, it's an ideal audio book. Small, interesting episodes around a single theme, lively narrator, and lots of humor.


    What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

    Roach's descriptions of the scientists who are so drawn in by what seem to us the humdrum (or gross) details of how our bodies work.


    What three words best describe Emily Woo Zeller’s performance?

    Bubbly, round, and irrepressible. She gives a solid performance, although at times I was annoyed by her delivery - which was a little over the top on the humor


    If you could give Gulp a new subtitle, what would it be?

    Fun times in your tummy. (also, I don't really like this question)


    Any additional comments?

    Totally worthwhile, especially if you like light-science non-fiction.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Leone Okanogan, WA, United States 07-30-13
    Leone Okanogan, WA, United States 07-30-13 Member Since 2011
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    "Thank goodness!"

    Stiff was one of my absolute favorite books and I was unblieveably disappointed when Roach's second book, Bonk... sucked so bad! I love Roach's ability to feed me interesting new data and make me laugh at the same time. With Bonk, I didn't really feel like I learned much. So happy that Roach got this one right!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Matthew Singapore, Singapore 07-21-13
    Matthew Singapore, Singapore 07-21-13 Member Since 2013

    Moving further from work extended my daily commute... thank God for Audible.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Journey from “the pie hole” to “the feed chute”"

    Unlike the finite length of the alimentary canal, my love for this book knows no end. Gulp was recommended to me by a friend and, now that I’ve finished the book, I will be similarly evangelistic… in fact I’ve already recommended Gulp more than any other book in the last few years.

    The writing is smart and funny. The content is weird and interesting. That should be enough for any would-be Audible customers. But there are a few other things I would like to mention to entice listeners.

    Firstly, the content isn’t *just* about the alimentary canal. It’s really so much broader than that, as you’ll soon realize in the first few chapters where we learn about (amongst other things) food preconceptions, overpriced olive oil, vegetarian catfood and the psychology of eating. The narrative takes a similarly winding path down the gastrointestinal tract with enchanting diversions along the way.

    Secondly, there are very few truly icky moments… I was only revolted once (for those interested, it was during the description of one culture’s inclination to suck the nasal discharge of their young with their mouth and spit it out). The writing is never exploitive, and I got the impression that Roach wants to inform and educate – not disgust.

    Thirdly, the transition from printed page to audiobook is flawless. Emily Woo Zeller is a first class narrator, and an absolute delight. She brings the words to life and I could hear the sparkle in her voice as she was reading some of Roach’s wittier lines.

    At times hilarious, at times baffling, and yes – at times a bit gross. But never boring. You will not regret this purchase.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jennifer Bailey South Carolina 07-21-13
    Jennifer Bailey South Carolina 07-21-13 Member Since 2011

    @tryjen

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Mary Roach Makes Hilarity out of the Disgusting"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    I recommend everything every written by Mary Roach. Science+Hilarity=WIN. From teenager to senior citizens, I've never met a person who didn't love a Mary Roach book


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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