I have a casual interest in the human body (two months ago I reviewed The Wonder Down Under) and when I learned there was a book about the personal, cultural, scientific, historical and environmental aspects of shit, I was hooked.
The Story of Shit is by biologist and writer Midas Dekkers and was translated from Dutch to English by Nancy Forest-Flier. Dekkers was able to impart a lot of interesting information on the topic, however it came along with wayyyyy too much emphasis on the joy of defecation and the underrated nature of human excrement.
Just some of the irrelevant and distasteful opinions shared included: defecating being not too dissimilar to childbirth, defecation should be revered in the same way a person appreciates a fine meal, the disappointment in not being able to detect the messages in dog faeces and so on.
The inclusion of two thoroughly inappropriate comments in relation to female genitalia definitely cost this book a star or two. Here's the first one, you be the judge.
"Everyone guards their throat like a virgin guards her vagina. Whether it's dubious food or a dubious guy, it's all about preserving the body's integrity. Forcing something unpleasant on someone bears a suspiciously strong resemblance to rape. The most important difference is that there's a set of teeth behind the lips of the mouth which victims of sexual assault might have found helpful - behind their other set of lips, of course." Page 9
What the actual hell was that?
While there were some informative sections of the book (the section on disgust was memorable, and the historical section describing enema parties in the French court during the time of Louis XIV was excellent) the final chapter was so offensive it made me regret the time I spent reading this book. I don't say this lightly either, see below.
"How a tongue can end up in an anus is anybody's guess." Page 247
"The penis seems to have been created for penetration of the rectum. It's shaped like a turd and has approximately the same dimensions." And this: "A man is lucky. He has a penis and an anus, which means he can mount and be mounted." Page 248
"Anyone who appreciates the fun of sex automatically discovers the pleasures that shit and pee have to offer." Page 249
Ummm, no they don't. I'll grant you that some do, but if Dekkers is that turned on by faeces, perhaps he should have written a different book. I thought The Story of Shit was desperately in need of its own enema via a few rounds of serious editing. It's not often I take issue with a translation either, but I did notice several occasions where the translation let the author down.
Ultimately, The Story of Shit by Midas Dekkers was a crap read; pun intended. The interesting and informative content of the book was quickly overshadowed by inappropriate content and I wouldn't recommend it to anyone. Those curious can read the entire first chapter in a generous sample here.
My rating = *