When I discovered that New York Times bestselling author Mary Roach had a new book out, I snatched it up and skipped happily throughout the library. Not really—no skipping was involved! Her previous books delve into what happens to the human body under exceptional circumstances such as cadavers, human sexuality, space flight, etc., all well-researched and extremely informative but written for the average person with levity and wit that is classic Roach. My Planet provides the reader with just a little something different.
This latest offering is a humorous collection of her articles, previously published in Reader’s Digest, focusing on life’s everyday events. With Roach, there’s no topic in which humor cannot be found. Many of the columns feature her good-sport-of-a-husband Ed. Her amusing anecdotes incorporating just the right amount of sarcasm will certainly strike a chord with her readers.
For example, there’s the essay on phoning customer-care representatives. “…Please wait, a customer-care representative will be with you shortly, or be short with you…Currently all of our representatives are busy helping dilute our profits. Your expected wait time is 42 minutes. Your expected blood pressure is 210/130.”
And then there’s the piece concerning Internet self-diagnosis. “Right now, for instance, I’m feeling a shooting pain on the side of my neck. A Web search produces five matches, the first three for a condition called Arnold-Chiari Malformation…While my husband, Ed, reads over my shoulder, I recite symptoms from the list. ‘General clumsiness and general imbalance,’ I say, as though announcing arrivals at the Marine Corps Ball. ‘Difficulty driving, lack of taste, difficulty feeling feet on ground.’ ‘Those aren’t symptoms,’ says Ed. ‘Those are your character flaws.’ ”