After a few rings, a phone call to Don Corrigan is answered. But it’s not Corrigan’s voice on the other end of the line. Alarm sounds sound and a loud robotic voice announces: “Fart detected!” Fart detected! Clear out!”
It’s a fart detector, Corrigan explains after letting the alarm go off for a confusing 10 seconds. It’s the same fart detector he talks about in his latest book, “I’m farting in your general direction! : Flatulence in popular culture.
This book is the third in a popular culture trilogy from the veteran journalist. The first two books, Nuts about squirrels And Death on the American roadexamined the representations of each subject throughout history.
Corrigan is professor emeritus at Webster University and editor emeritus of Timetables Webster – Kirkwood weekly newspaper. He recently made a dish at Time by the river about all things farts – and his path to fascination with flatulence.
This interview has been edited for clarity and length.
I guess my first question is why. Why write an entire book about farts?
A lot of people have asked me about this. My brother-in-law criticized me for this when I gave him a copy of the book. He said: “No one wants to read 75,000 words about flatulence and the print is too small. » He will be surprised. It will be on the New York Times bestseller list before he knew it.
I had my first flatulence story 30 years ago in the Timetables Webster – Kirkwood. It was about flatulence during the holidays and how to deal with it. There are a lot of crises in the world and nothing is worse than opening your community newspaper and discovering an article about gas and bloating. I had a lot of heat – a lot of blowI come back from this story. But it proved to me that people are either very hot or very cold on whether flatulence should be part of the mainstream debate.
A state legislator, Bud Barnes, gave me a biography of the French pétomane Le Pétomane. He could sing with his flatulence and blow out candles from two feet away. When I read this, I said that when I am no longer a full-time university professor, I will write a book on this subject because there are so many interesting things about it.
When the head of AG Pharma, who developed Beano, read this article, he sent me a lifetime supply of Beano. It didn’t last me a lifetime. I guess I needed more than they thought.
I interviewed doctors who deal with this for this article. And I was delighted to see how excited they were to be interviewed. No one really wants to write about this stuff. They were so happy to see me, and when I put them on the front page of the paper, they just loved me. This is another reason why I wanted to write this book. They deserve more credit.
Everyone wants to know how to improve their appearance, but they don’t care about how to improve their gas plants, which should concern them more.
It was very long-winded answer.
What did you learn while researching your book that surprised you?
Well, I was born knowing a lot about flatulence. I refuse to be ashamed of farts. Some people tried to shame me for this. They say: “You are more talented than that, you should write about more serious topics.” ” But I always say, “Look who wrote about this.” » Chaucer spoke of it in The Canterbury Tales. And Jonathan Swift, William Shakespeare, Mark Twain, Ernest Hemingway, JD Salinger. I include them in a chapter on literary flatulence.
Ben Franklin, my hero, wrote Fart proudly. Here’s a guy who invented the wood stove and bifocals but still had time to write about flatulence. In his treatise to the Royal European Academy of Sciences, he implored them to devote more time to researching flatulence. He said there had to be a way to get rid of what he called “a stink in the pants.”
In recent years, you have also written books about squirrels and roadkill. What attracts you to these subjects?
I’m the type of man who will go where no one else will go.
Anyway, here’s my fart machine. I’ll give you just a few examples.
All right, let it rip.
(Corrigan then plays a variety of different fart noises on his fart machine, naming each one. There were “scam”, “brown growler”, and “barking spider”.)
Did you name them yourself or are there actual names for various flatulences?
Well, I’m probably the first writer to scientifically classify and name them. There is a chapter on this where I talk about the characteristics of each one.
It’s a very good fart machine, don’t you think? They look quite realistic.
I’m not convinced you’re using a fart machine. This seems way too realistic.
These are the wonders of modern electronics.
What do you hope people will take away from Flatulence in popular culture?
In the book I give the 10 commandments against flatulence. One of them is, of course, to honor your proctologists and gastroenterologists.
You shall not light your own gas. You won’t cut the wind in an elevator or an enclosed space.
I can’t believe God didn’t cover all of this in the original 10 commandments. He must have gotten out of his mind.
Moses probably purified the true commandments. I think these were actually in the original commandments before he brought them down from the burning bush.
Luckily, we have journalists like you looking for the truth thousands of years later.