Thursday, August 18, 2016
I immensely enjoyed her book Stiff (2003), which examines human corpses—or, as that book's subtitle puts it, "the curious lives of human cadavers." Bonk, which looks at the history of the science of sex (mostly in the modern era, but with quick looks back in time here and there) promised to be equally entertaining. It didn't disappoint. Although Roach digresses in footnotes a little more than seems prudent sometimes, she paints some indelible pictures. Some of these are fun, such as her description of a day visiting a group of Danish hog farmers that artificially inseminate pigs (trying to boost productivity by making things more pleasurable for the sows). Other vignettes are not for the squeamish—notably the vivid tale of Dr. Geng-Long Hsu performing radical penile surgery at his Microsurgical Potency Reconstruction and Research Center, in Taipei. On the whole, though, an entertaining romp through the world of research on sex.