Book Review

Does It Fart? by Nick Caruso and Dani Rabaiotti

top b'day gift from my square sister

My sister came to visit me, here in Toronto, Ontario, CANADA, for just over a week during August, and one morning while I was idly doing something that I felt was too important to interrupt in order to use Google, I demanded my sister find out for me if all mammals fart.

My sister’s quick research promptly told me the answer (yes, except sloths), but it also told me something about her disgraceful subservience in the face of any bizarre order I barked with the semblance of importance.

Understanding the power I wielded over my younger, squarer1, sister, I made sure to not take advantage, which was a decision made easier by the fact that there is no one on this entire continent who I wish harm on, so there isn’t really anything bad I could have bullied her into doing. Instead, I contented myself with bullying her into buying me a book of poetry about glory holes (the wonderfully titled This Is Where I Get Off) and, when we went to see Niagara Falls, making sure she drove the hire car back to the city so I could enjoy an underwhelming (of course) tasting session at a highly regarded (lol) Canadian vineyard.

Aside: I’ll wait until I’m back living in (or at worst near) somewhere with trustworthy domestic wine before writing at length about The Grape in Canada. Eurgh. I haven’t had a drink in over three weeks (because I’m so sad lol) and given that the easiest booze to get hold of here is locally-produced wine it’s been surprisingly (practically) painless.

Anyway, my sister remembered this morning interaction, and so – on the day after my birthday (which was a public holiday in Canada this year, so no post, boohoo) I was thrilled to find in my “mailbox”2 a pair of top gifts coming straight outta Redditch, England: a lovely mug with dinosaurs on it and a copy of a pocket-sized non-fiction novelty book called Does It Fart?: The Definitive Field Guide To Animal Flatulence.

The book, cowritten by two zoologists with assistance from their assorted social media networks, does exactly what it sounds like and offers about 70 or 80 three-hundred-word essays on whether or not various animals fart. There’s a lovely introduction describing what is meant by a fart and how this differs from flatulence, and though in almost every entry that describes how an animal DOES fart, the animal does farting in the way that you or I would fart (i.e. out of the digestive tract3 as a result of gaseous build-up released by bacteria during the process of digestion), some of them are more complex, as a surprising amount of animals make stinky stinky smells as a way to make problems for other animals.

This is, of course, an archetypal “toilet book” in that it’s about bodily functions, it’s episodic, informative and funny, and though this time I did read it cover to cover, it is something I will dip in and out of whenever the need arises.

The main takeaways, though, are that NO BIRDS FART and that all mammals except for sloths and bats definitely fart (sloths digest things so slowly that were gas to begin building up in their guts, their whole slothy bodies would explode before the gas reached the anus; whereas, it is yet to be proven that bats fart, though it’s almost certain they do). Some fish fart, some insects fart, some reptiles fart, some amphibians fart: like eating, fucking, dying and fear, it’s a pretty-much universal animal action.

I recommend Does It Fart? as the perfect novelty book gift for your scatological, cooler, older, balder, less professionally stable, sibling[s]. Good work, my sister!!!

Scott Manley Hadley was ‘Highly Commended’ in the Forward Prizes for Poetry 2019.

1. I pointed out to my sister while she was staying with me that she’s probably the least cool person (of our generation) who I know. I didn’t mean it offensively, merely matter-of-factly, but when I remembered someone less cool than her and told her, she still didn’t seem pleased. The less cool person is an old school friend (who I haven’t seen in years) who once spent a summer relentlessly cycling, jogging and swimming just on the off-chance that he “might” do a triathlon. He was a nice guy, but square. I can’t remember what sparked it, but my ex used to absolutely loathe this man, possibly the most out of anyone she regularly had anything to do with who didn’t conspicuously share her personal failings.

2. This is a word that makes me think of innuendo in a way that “letterbox” never would. It’s almost certainly because the first syllable is the same as a sex.

3. Do we really use the same noun (“tract”) to mean both anus, guts, stomach and mouth as well as to mean major and consequential (does that mean has consequences?) religious text? Is that satire in language? Your Tract Stinks, write something stupid with that as a title/gag, note to self. Actually, naa, it’s not that good a title.

0 comments on “Does It Fart? by Nick Caruso and Dani Rabaiotti

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: