Gulp is Mary Roach’s pop-science journey into the human (and occasionally non-human) digestive track, beginning with all things mouth related (saliva, chewing) and ending up exactly where you’d suspect, although with angles you I didn’t anticipate (Elvis’ megacolon; drug smuggling).
I’ve previously read Stiff, Roach’s look at the afterlife of cadavers, and although I enjoyed Gulp, I liked Stiff more. Because it has been some time since I read Stiff, I can’t remember exactly what is less enticing about Gulp, but I suspect it may be the extra asides and footnotes in Gulp? I am not averse to asides and footnotes, but a number of them in Gulp were both superfluous and not as funny as Roach thinks they are.
Forgetting about the footnotes and focusing on the main text, Gulp was an interesting ride all the way through. There was a lot of general information about how the average GI tract works, and then closer looks some very interesting deviations from that average. As an added bonus, a lot of the info in here will make you a pub quiz star: how many times does the average human fart each day? What really killed Elvis? How do they taste test pet food? Gulp is definitely a little nerdy, but that seems in keeping with what it promises: pop science about the gut, in all its visceral glory.