An honest, funny, neurotic, and totally gross love child of Mindy Kaling and Mary Roach.
Mara Altman's volatile and apprehensive relationship with her body has led her to wonder about a lot of stuff over the years. Like, who decided that women shouldn't have body hair? And how sweaty is too sweaty? Also, why is breast cleavage sexy but camel toe revolting? Isn't it all just cleavage? These questions and others like them have led to the comforting and sometimes smelly revelations that constitute Gross Anatomy, an essay collection about what it's like to operate the bags of meat we call our bodies.
Divided into two sections, "The Top Half" and "The Bottom Half," with cartoons scattered throughout, Altman's book takes the reader on a wild and relatable journey from head to toe--as she attempts to strike up a peace accord with our grody bits.
With a combination of personal anecdotes and fascinating research, Gross Anatomy holds up a magnifying glass to our beliefs, practices, biases, and body parts and shows us the naked truth: that there is greatness in our grossness.
About the Author
Mara Altman enjoys writing about issues that embarrass her (e.g., chin hair), because she has found that putting shame on the page defuses the stigma, leaving her with a sense of empowerment and freedom. Her first book, Thanks for Coming, an investigation into love and orgasm, was translated into three languages. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Salon, and New York magazine, among other publications. Before going freelance, Altman worked as a staff writer for The Village Voice and daily newspapers in India and Thailand. An alumna of Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, she lives in San Diego with quite a few other hairy beings.
Praise for Gross Anatomy
“It's an honest, often hilarious look at women's bodies, how we think of them, our practices, questions, embarrassments. It's all on display, and Mara Altman is not shy about any of it.”—NPR’s All Things Considered
“Delightfully crass...[Altman’s] level of research coupled with her unique shade of humor sets her series of essays apart.”—Publishers Weekly
“An endearingly outrageous attempt to demystify the female body while shedding light on the causes of female corporeal insecurities. A simultaneously funny and informative memoir about the wonder of the human body.”—Kirkus Reviews
“Altman's bottomless curiosity and razor-sharp wit are a perfect match for fans of Mary Roach and everyone frustrated or fascinated by their mysterious vessel of flesh.”—Booklist
“Altman both contends with her feelings about her own body and raises some cultural questions I've been pondering for a while...I felt very seen by it. So in a way, it's not just [about] one woman. It's [about] all of us."—The Forward
"Like microdermabrasion for the psyche, Mara Altman's delightful collection removes the veneer of shame and stigma associated with the messier aspects of womanhood. Pairs well with tweezers."—Ada Calhoun, author of Wedding Toasts I'll Never Give
“Gross Anatomy anoints Mara Altman at once the Mary Karr of sweat, the David Sedaris of head lice, and the Frank McCourt of nudist resorts....What more could you ask for in a book?”—Sarah Knight, New York Times–bestselling author of The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck
“Mara Altman treads bravely where most humans dare not go: into the slippery, icky, mushy corners of the collective human bod. She comes out triumphant, concluding hilariously that not every aspect of our bodies needs to be worshiped, purified, and/or plucked. Sometimes bodies are just plain odd. I read this while shrieking, laughing, and eating a bagel—as we bodies do.”—Tori Telfer, author of Lady Killers
“Gross Anatomy is a charming, deeply-researched, whole-hearted embrace of our imperfections, the things that women don't talk about because we feel they mar our societally imposed notions of femininity. But after reading Mara Altman's exploration of her body (and ours) you'll feel more comfortable with yourself, from head to toe.”—Jennifer 8. Lee, author of The Fortune Cookie Chronicles
“Forget that old fake news about sugar and spice. With wit and candor, Mara Altman tells us what girls are really made of—and it's a hair-raising revelation.”—Tom Robbins, author of Even Cowgirls Get the Blues and Jitterbug Perfume
“I love how Gross Anatomy delightfully reveals Mara Altman’s upbeat and life-affirming obsession with the human body—our lovelinesses and not-so-lovelinesses. Lots of people will soon feel far more body-positive because of this book.”—Jon Ronson, author of The Psychopath Test “Mara Altman boldly goes where no man has gone before. With this collection of hilarious and honest stories, I’m hoping that will change.”—Lesley Arfin, author ofDear Diaryand co-creator of Netflix’s Love