—Lauren Murphy, Senior Librarian, Bonney Lake Pierce County Library
I have to start by admitting that I would read anything Mary Roach writes.
Two elements make her nonfiction books very fun.
First, she will go anywhere and do anything (including going out to lunch right after visiting the body farm or even with a group of fly biologists) to find out what research is being done on space travel, sex, dead people and, most recently, to keep people who are at war alive.
Second is her amazingly dry sense of humor about her encounters with science and scientists.
One of my favorite scenes of all time is the one in which she is being severely chastised by the lab manager of an anatomy lab, but since someone has just told her the woman’s name, and she learned earlier what that person did, the only she can think is “You cut off heads, you cut off heads, you cut off heads.” That’s from “Stiff.”
Here is a great moment from “Grunt.”
“Camouflage is interesting from a fashion perspective. As a rule, the military starts—rather than follows—fashion trends in the civilian sphere. Every now and then, they start them and then follow them. Midway through the previous century, Army camouflage prints began showing up in mainstream fashion. It began with clothing and took off from there. As I write this, you can get on the internet and order camouflage wedding bands, dog sweaters, onesies, condoms, flip-flops, hard hats, and football cleats. Camo print became so popular that eventually navy personnel began clamoring for it. To the embarrassment of many, the current Navy working uniform is a blue camouflage print. Unsure whether perhaps I was missing the point, I asked a Navy commander about the rationale. He looked down at his trousers and sighed. ‘that’s so no one can see you if you fall overboard.’”
I always look forward to her next adventure and was first in line for a copy of “Grunt.” Unlike some of her other topics, this one has a more serious implication for all of us (not that sex doesn’t have a serious implication for all of us), and yet I still laughed. I admitted to several people at the time that I was laughing about things I probably shouldn’t be laughing about, like all of the terrible injuries and illnesses that are the facts of war.
Though I truly love all of her books, what I wrote for my review of “Grunt” on Goodreads was, “Everyone who has to make the decision to send people off to fight in a war should read this book, now … before it’s too late.”
I am happy that Pierce County Library has chosen “Grunt” for Pierce County READS because I agree with Mary that it is time to honor the heroes behind the scenes, the surgeons and scientists who are attempting to save lives, one zipper at a time.
What do you think?
Leave a comment with your own thoughts on the author.