The Bookworm Sez

Review: 'The Woman Who Swallowed Her Cat ...'

By Terri Schlichenmeyer
Real AspenJune 5, 2012
You are the safest person you know.

Why risk it? That’s your motto. You always buckle up when you drive, you only go the speed limit and you rarely pass anybody on the road. Your house is filled with grab bars, anti-slip mats, environmentally safe products, extra everything so you never run out, the neighbors’ phone numbers, and a written back-up plan.

Always Be Prepared, that’s your way of life. But things happen - usually in the worst way, as you’ll see in “The Woman Who Swallowed Her Cat and Other Gruesome Medical Tales” by Rob Myers, M.D.
'The Woman Who Swallowed Her Cat ...'

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When you hear about somebody involved in an oops, you have to wince. Yep, you’ve been there and accidents are no fun.

But at least you’ve lived through them. It’s not always that way, of course, and this book is filled with “bizarre… unbelievable, bewildering and incomprehensible” cases that really happened.

Or did they?

Who would believe, for instance, that a man could choke on a cue ball he’d forced into his own mouth? Or that someone would happily inject hair tonic into her own body, just to get attention? Or that anybody could consume enough alcohol to think that a lawn mower would make a right fine hedge trimmer?

Then again, there are those accidents that make rumors: delusional thieves who climb down a business’s furnace vent and get stuck; or things that end up in, um… places they shouldn’t be; or people who die because of allergies they never knew they had; or people who underestimate the power of powertools.

And then there are the cautionary tales you’ve heard, the ones that make you want to sit in your house and not move a muscle: the worms that can infest your body, the dangers of driving too recklessly, the things that recreational drugs can do to mind and body, the problems with eating too much, too fast, too wrong.

Even your everyday pleasures are suspect, but there’s some advice to be gleaned from this book. Don’t open your mouth if you go fishing. Don’t try to outrun police on a hot day. Don’t sit anywhere near moving toys. Taste your coffee before drinking. And always watch where you swim.

Life is weird and, apparently, so is death. But both are featured in this odd and oddly entertaining little book.

Toronto cardiologist and author Rob Myers has pulled together dozens of short, sometimes disgusting, mostly incredible stories of death, disaster, and dismay. That may seem like something you’d want to avoid reading, but what’s most amazing is how addicting this book really is. Although some of the stories may seem dubious – indeed, Myers tantalizes readers by admitting that one tale is fictional – and though the stories are sometimes cringe-worthy, this book, much like the proverbial car crash it includes, is hard to resist peeking at.

“The Woman Who Swallowed Her Cat” isn’t for everybody, but if you’re the right reader in the right frame of mind, it’s highly entertaining. For you, this book is a pretty safe bet.

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