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Gulp Audiobook

Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal

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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

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  •  
    William Winston Salem, NC, United States 05-05-13
    William Winston Salem, NC, United States 05-05-13
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    "Disappointment"

    I tried and tried to like this book after reading so many glowing reviews here and in print. I tried starting it over twice in a different frame of mind. But I just never enjoyed it and couldn't finish it.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    david Clermont, GA, United States 05-03-13
    david Clermont, GA, United States 05-03-13
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    "Humorously clinical analysis of digestive system"
    What did you like best about Gulp? What did you like least?

    Narration is very good and Roach describes, using detailed research and graphic but appropriate language, a clinical context that is fasinating to anyone in the medical field or with interest in the digestive system.


    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gr8pnut Atlanta, GA 04-18-13
    Gr8pnut Atlanta, GA 04-18-13 Member Since 2014
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    "Solid choice, don't read while eating!!"

    I listened to most of this on a road trip, with very mindful breaks where I turned off the book. I'm sure if a video camera had been posed on my face while I listened it would have been really funny. I was making all kinds of disgust faces during a lot of it. That being said, it was fascinating; I have bought all of Mary Roach's audiobooks and enjoy them. Just be warned!

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Suzn F Fletcher, VT, US 05-23-13
    Suzn F Fletcher, VT, US 05-23-13 Member Since 2013
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    "GULP>>>>GAG"

    Oh it was okay. I enjoyed the usual Mary Roach funny tone which is always the best part. It was for me pretty much a gross out experience but I knew that going in, so no fault of the author or book itself. I guess I was wanting something more, I'm not sure what, maybe if I could have felt a bit more informed, wait......I did learn one thing...or I thought I did... never mind, now I've forgotten. So I will chalk this one up to an easy fun listen, just not memorable in any way.

    10 of 13 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Claire 04-14-13
    Claire 04-14-13
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    "Interesting and funny"

    This book was very interesting and had some funny bits. I certainly learned some things about the body and digestion. It was entertaining and informative. I found some of the anecdotes just a touch on the insensitive/judgmental side...a little compassion for the unfortunate people who made the record books with their unusual stories would have felt better to me, as a listener. If we must be voyeurs we can be compassionate voyeurs, no? Still an excellent listen; it kept my attention, gave me some laughs, and made me a little bit more informed. The narration was good (read: not annoying).

    7 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kristine 04-08-13
    Kristine 04-08-13 Member Since 2010
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    "Awesome content!"
    What did you like best about Gulp? What did you like least?

    I thoroughly enjoyed the content as written. The delivery lacked.


    What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

    The story, and the investigative aspect. Who looks for this stuff? Awesome!


    Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Emily Woo Zeller?

    The author. She has an obvious comedic tone that emily doesn't deliver effectively.


    Was Gulp worth the listening time?

    Yes...


    Any additional comments?

    The greatest detraction was the narrator trying to mimic the voices of the various scientists. It sounded mocking even when it wasn't meant to. This is a really cool trip through digestion! I just wish I had time to actually read the book in my own way vs. this. Still love Audible!

    7 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Wayne Matthews, NC 11-20-15
    Wayne Matthews, NC 11-20-15 Member Since 2017
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    "Very interesting book."

    Science journalist Mary Roach is famous for having written six non-fiction books. This book, Gulp, along with Stiff is clearly the best and most informative. Spook, which claims to examine the afterlife, does no such thing and is clearly the worst. My Planet is simply a bunch of Roach's old news paper columns and like Spook is a complete waste of time. The other two, Bonk and Packing for Mars, are worthwhile but not a good as Gulp and Stiff.

    Gulp, subtitled Adventures on the Alimentary Canal, covers the topic well.

    Overall, it seems to me that Mary Roach's books are over hyped, but Gulp and Stiff are excellent.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jamie Barrington Live Oak, FL, United States 05-17-13
    Jamie Barrington Live Oak, FL, United States 05-17-13 Member Since 2017
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    "Disappointed"
    What disappointed you about Gulp?

    It was very monotonous. After reading all the great reviews and being familiar with Mary Roach's book, STIFF, I guess I had high expectations. Unfortunately, this fell flatter than flat. It was just....boring.


    What do you think your next listen will be?

    Not sure....something more interesting, I'm sure.


    Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Emily Woo Zeller?

    Tavia Gilbert. The best narrator I've listened to, so far.


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

    Disappointment. Boredom.


    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Connie Elliston, MT, United States 04-06-13
    Connie Elliston, MT, United States 04-06-13 Member Since 2017
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    "Another wonderful tour in taboo land"

    Mary Roach has an inquiring mind, and while many of her topics are way off the beaten path, she always uses an approach of scientific inquiry with a quirkiness that's charming and funny and absolutely fascinating. Zeller's reading is right on the mark. As with "Stiff," the fascination factor far outweighs the yuk factor. What a great listen! And what a lot I learned...

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dubi New York, NY 04-19-14
    Dubi New York, NY 04-19-14
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    "A Steady Diet of Snark"
    What would have made Gulp better?

    There are so many things wrong with this book -- the anecdotes are hit or miss, depending on your interest in a particular thread; there are far too many anecdotes from the 18th and 19th centuries, when crazy stuff was being done to our digestive systems (and everything else) in the early days of science and medicine; and there is no acknowledgement that today's scientists may prove to be as batty as those guys from the bad old days, despite examples in Gulp of science from the recent past that has already been debunked.

    But the one thing that could have made it all coalesce, since this is an investigation into the digestive system in an era of hyper-consciousness about nutrition, would have been a focus on what is going on these days in the science of food consumption and GI medical treatments rather than in horror stories and gross-out jokes from centuries past. The overall idea of taking a journalistic look into the science and mythology of digestion is excellent, but the execution is facile and uninformative.


    What was most disappointing about Mary Roach’s story?

    Most disappointing is the almost complete lack of insight. We don't need Mary Roach interviewing a flatulence expert to teach us that people don't mind the smell of their own farts. Or that nuns may have used enemas to satisfy their sublimated sexual urges. Or that Elvis may have died of constipation. Or that we could eke out that last 10% of nutrition from the things we eat by eating our own poop. Or that the legend of dragons may have been no more than a case of fart lighting gone horribly wrong. (Note the frequent use of the word "may" -- little of concrete insight anywhere).

    Worse than that, though, are the instances where the insight is incomplete or wrong. The author recounts a horror story about colectomy surgery being used to cure constipation in the 19th century, but never follows up with even a note about colectomy now being a highly effective treatment for immotility (which worked life-changing wonders for a member of my family) -- it wasn't the viability of the procedure that was ever in question, it was the danger of complications from any surgical procedure in the early days of surgical procedures.

    Most egregious is the author's serious debunking of dietary fiber as an agent in reducing colon cancer without a single word of discussion about its other benefits (never mind that the issue of fiber and colon cancer has hardly been resolved to the point of being debunked, certainly not based on the flaws of a long-ago study comparing rural Africans to English sailors that Roach spends too much time on).


    How did the narrator detract from the book?

    The narrator recites the book like an eighth grader making fart jokes, which in fact she is, except that she is not an eighth grader. I can't wholly blame the author for giving her little more than eighth grade fart jokes to work with -- the author didn't force her to narrate the whole thing with a relentless snicker barely concealed beneath her words.


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

    In addition to all the above, this book constantly evoked annoyance -- we are interrupted constantly by "Author's notes" (i.e. footnotes) that spoiled the flow of the narrative. Making it doubly annoying is that, after the rankling intrusion of the phrase "author's note" to signal the start of a footnote, there was never any indication of where the note ended and the main text resumed (not a problem in print, but definitely an issue in audio).


    Any additional comments?

    Many other negative reviews of this book discuss the gross-out factor. That really didn't bother me per se. We are talking about the digestive system -- even the most appetizing gourmet meal turns into something gross the second it passes your lips. Perhaps it is the delight with which the grossness is thrown out there that rankles people -- people older than the age of 12, that is.

    14 of 19 people found this review helpful

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