Adventures on the Alimentary Canal
The irresistible, ever-curious, and always best-selling Mary Roach returns with a new adventure to the invisible realm we carry around inside.
“America’s funniest science writer” (Washington Post) 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 at our side, 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.
- April 2013
- 5.9 × 8.6 in
/ 352 pages
- Sales Territory: Worldwide including Canada, Singapore and Malaysia, but excluding the British Commonwealth.
Endorsements & Reviews
“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
“A witty, woving romp of a book… Roach…is a thoroughly unflappable, utterly intrepid investigator of the icky.” — Chloe Schama, Smithsonian
“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
“Letting this brilliantly mischievous writer, for whom no pun is ouch and no cow sacred, dip her pen into the font of all potty humor must have seemed even riskier than her previous excursions into corpses (Stiff), the afterlife (Spook), sex (Bonk) and outer space (Packing for Mars). But dip she did—at one point she put her whole arm into a cow’s belly—and came up with another quirkily informative pop-science entertainment in Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal.” — Jeffrey Burke, Bloomberg
“Roach is a gift to all those unsung researchers with weird curiosities, the people who tell us things we hadn't thought to ask: The teams who reveal that we like crunchy foods that snap at speeds of 300 meters per second and produce a crunch that reaches 90 to 100 decibels; the anthropologist who swallowed a shrew whole (with a little tomato sauce) to demonstrate what remains after digestion; the scientists who put windows into cows to see into their rumen; the researchers who study spit; investigators who sniff icky things; and specialists who examine poop. When Roach talks about her visits to various laboratories, I picture her received as a celebrity, the one person who gets it, the outsider who will teach the world to appreciate the distant exurbs of human curiosity. At this she succeeds admirably.” — Jenni Laidman, Chicago Tribune
“Once again Roach boldly goes where no author has gone before, into the sciences of the taboo, the macabre, the icky, and the just plain weird. And she conveys it all with a perfect touch: warm, lucid, wry, sharing the unavoidable amusement without ever resorting to the cheap or the obvious. Yum!” — Steven Pinker, author of How the Mind Works and The Better Angels of Our Nature
“Mary Roach put her hand in a cow’s stomach for you, dear reader. If you don't read Gulp, then that was all for naught. Plus, you'll miss out on the funniest book ever written about guts.” — Carl Zimmer, author of Evolution: Making Sense of Life and Parasite Rex
“As probing as an endoscopy, Gulp is quintessential Mary Roach: supremely wide-ranging, endlessly curious, always surprising, and, yes, gut-wrenchingly funny.” — Tom Vanderbilt, author of Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us)
Also by Mary Roach