Mary Roach knows how to have fun on the printed page, and you'll find evidence on every page of 'Gulp.' her latest work of science and humor. Here's the only book you're likely to read that will not only make you snort milk out through your nose while reading the book – it'll explain why that happens.
I was fortunate enough to speak with Mary in her home, in the cozy confines of a room full of books. I was more than a little daunted by the fact that I'd already heard her on three different NPR shows, and had been told she'd been on various TV shows as well. But once you sit down to speak with her, her enthusiasm for her subject takes over and everything she says is informed by the fun she clearly had writing the book.
I did spend a bit of time talking to her about how she wrote the book, as oppsoedf to having her tell the best stories from the book, though there are a few that I had to ask about. Roach writes about mealworms in 'Gulp.', and their reported propensity for eating their way out of the stomachs of your pets. As the one-time caretaker for a rather large leopard gecko, I had to know if the rumors were true and she talked about the experiment she conducted to dig up the facts.
We also spent a little time on the sense of smell, which has long been an interest of mine. Smell plays a part in a variety of places in the book, from our initial experience of taste to the smells engineered into pet food to bring our dogs to the bowl.
Roach also spoke about her sense of taboo, and how it informs not just this book, but all of them. Taboos give her an easy source of subjects, or at least, subjects that are less likely to fall under the gaze of another writer. She goes to places like the state prison, where she finds herself face to face with a most unsavory gentleman, to learn about hooping.
05-04-13: Commentary : Reasons Not to Leave the House, Reality Check : The Truth Hurts Edition: 'Down the Up Escalator' by Barbara Garson, 'The Wolf and the Watchman' by Scott C. Johnson,'The Book of Woe' by Gary Greenberg, 'Confessions of a Sociopath' by M. E. Thomas