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Editorial 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 Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Love Mary Roach!

This book takes you on an end-to-end tour of the alimentary canal, and it's a very satisfying read. I'm a big fan of Mary Roach's work, and her latest book does not disappoint. I love facts about science, and Mary Roach's inquiries go where standard science writers fear to tread!

The narrator also does a fabulous job. Her wry, bubbly style matches the tone of the book perfectly.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Gulp=Gross

This book was sooo nasty. Warning: Do not read while eating! I would listen to this on the way to work, while eating of course, and I would just feel so repulsed afterwards. The author leaves nothing out - she discusses spit, the colon, defecating...it's disgusting. However, it will leave you with a nice appreciation of your body. In all seriousness, a lot of the anecdotes were interesting - albeit gross - but the storyline dragged some. It is hard to listen to someone talk about spit for 30 minutes - unless you're into that kind of thing.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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

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 3 people found this review helpful

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Entertaining and Informative!

Terrific book about an "unmentionable" subject. If you've ever wanted a tour of the internal workings regarding what hapoens to what you eat, this is a must read. The book's contents are interesting and sometimes curious, and the narration is outstanding, adding such an element to the humorous anecdotes.

Hard to put down or turn off (in the case of the Audible version). No "ick factor" required!!

I highly recommend this title, in either format.

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Sharts and buttholes

Didn’t realize this book was about the history of mucus and buttholes! Some of it was interesting but most of it was boring and frequently referenced weird studies involving animals from the 1800s. The most vivid portion of the book describes how an inmate shoved some knives up his a**hole to sell on the prison yard. Not really a good audio to listen to on my 1 hour commute to and from work every day! LOL

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Adventurous indeed

Who knew the journey through the body - from entry to exit - could be so fascinating? Mary Roach has done a sterling job of investigating every nook and cranny of how our digestive systems work, roping in all manner of (weird?) science - and scientist - along the way. Coupled with the smooth delivery of the narrator, plus her ability to gift every speaker with a voice of their own, it's an enjoyable way of making even the driest medical texts interesting and engaging. Two thumbs up!

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Mary Roach!!

Her work is always entertaining and informative.
Her humor and intelligence are always on display. She and and Diane Ackerman are my favorite writers of the genre

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Narration ruined a great author

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

Mary Roach is an amazing author with a unique view that makes seemingly icky topics, well...makes them funny. However, the narrator has NO sense of comedic timing or personality which made the performance feel like eating a spoonful of flour.

Would you be willing to try another one of Emily Woo Zeller’s performances?

NO! She ruined the book.

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good book

interesting book full of information you'd never know unless you read or listened to this book

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Foods journey from one-end to the other-end

Would you listen to Gulp again? Why?

Sometime after listening to her book Stiff; Mary Roach's presentations are an appealing blend of facts, science, human-response and humor that kept me listening, thinking and smiling.

Who was your favorite character and why?

The fart pants because of the initial mental image they provoked

Which scene was your favorite?

The man with a hole in his stomach. The doctor who didn't want to heal him and stop his research. And their long history of broken promises

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

The fact that dogs have a major difference in food tastes than humans and what the dog-food companies do with this fact. Next time I hear someone tell their dog how good the dog-food tastes, I will be smiling from ear to ear.

Any additional comments?

I plan to watch more closely for results from stool medical exchanges and the government's acknowledgement of this practice for health and well being..