Skip to main content

Review: Bonk: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers, by Mary Roach


Pages: 318
Original date of publication: 2008
My copy: 2008 (WW Norton)
Why I decided to read: saw Mary Roach speak at a conference
How I acquired my copy: Denver airport bookstore, October 2012

In Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers, Roach explored the topic of the human cadaver and how it’s used in science. In Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex, she does pretty much the same thing, except with sex and sexuality. Roach wanders out into the fringes of scientific exploration in her books, into the areas that aren’t considered “typical,” and she writes her books with a liberal amount of humor. Roach traveled all over the world to witness—and even participate in—clinical trials involving sex. Every now and then she footnotes her writing with random stuff, including a note about who Millard Filmore’s running mate was (trick question!).

From start to finish, Bonk is an entertaining read—even if I did get a few odd looks as I was reading it in public. Sure, the subject matter can be uncomfortable at times, but even more so is the humor that the author sees in her subjects. She spares no one, from the artificial inseminators in Denmark to clinical trials on prostitutes in Egypt. In her introduction, she even pokes fun of herself and the avenues that her “obsession” sometimes take. “Last summer I was in a medical school library Xeroxing a journal article called ‘Vacuum Cleaner Use in Autoerotic Death’ when the paper jammed. I could not bring myself to ask the copy room attendant to help me, but quietly moved over to the adjacent machine and began again.” In both of the books of hers I’ve read, Roach seems to go off on random tangents, but it’s always an intriguing and entertaining ride.


Comments

Both of these sound like such fun - I shall investigate!

Popular posts from this blog

The Sunday Salon

What a crazy week this has been! My cousin, who’s ten, was in town for most of this past week, and since he’s high energy, it’s taken a lot of energy especially out of my mom, who also had to deal with my 87-year-old grandmother. Plus. my sister was in town for the weekend, so it’s been mostly crazy around here. All of my posts this past week have been scheduled; and I only got around to writing a bunch of outstanding reviews yesterday afternoon. It’s quieter here now that my mom has driven my sister back to New York, and I’ve spent much of today catching up on sleep and, of course, reading. Right now I’m reading one of my Virago Modern Classics: The Rising Tide, by Molly Keane (though it was originally published under her pseudonym MJ Farrell). I’m really loving it; the author really knew how to combine wonderful (sometimes exasperating) characters with a great plot. I’ve been cruising Ebay for more books by Molly Keane, since I’m living her writing style. This is easily one of the b…

Review: The Tudor Secret, by CW Gortner

Pages: 327Original date of publication:My edition: 2011 (St. Martin’s)Why I decided to read: Heard about this through Amazon.comHow I acquired my copy: Amazon Vine, December 2010Originally published as The Secret Lion, The Tudor Secret is the first in what will be a series featuring Brendan Prescott, an orphan foundling who was raised in the household of the Dudley family. In 1553, King Edward is on his deathbed, and William Cecil gives a secret mission Brendan. Soon he finds himself working as a double agent, as he attempts to discover the secret of his own birth.There ‘s a lot to like in this novel, mainly in the historical details that the author weaves into the story. He knows Tudor history like the back of his hand, and it definitely shows in this book. Because it was his first novel, however, there are some rough patches. There were a couple of plot holes that I had trouble navigating around—primarily, why would a secretive man such as Cecil entrust a seemingly nobody with this …

Review: Forever Amber, by Kathleen Winsor

Pages: 972 Originally published: 1944 My edition: 2000 (Chicago Review Press) How I acquired my copy: Amazon.com, 2004

Forever Amber takes place in the 1660s, immediately follwing Charles II's ("the Merry Monarch") return of the Stuarts to the English throne. The book features Amber St. Claire, a young woman who starts out as a sixteen-year-old country girl, naieve to the workings of the world. She immediately meets Bruce Carlton, a dashing young Cavalier, with whom she has a passionate love affair in choppy intervals throughout the book. They have two children together, but Bruce won't marry her for the reason he tells his friend Lord Almsbury: that Amber just isn't the kind of woman one marries.

Upon following Bruce to London, he goes to Virginia, leaving her to fend for herself. What follows is a series of affairs and four marriages, with Bruce coming back from America now and then. Amber's marriages are imprudent: her first husband is a gambler, her second is…