Why Do Men Have Nipples?: Hundreds of Questions You'd Only Ask a Doctor After Your Third Martini by Mark Leyner and Billy Goldberg (Three Rivers Press, $12.95)
This book launches from the premise that patients don't ask their doctors some of the questions that really arouse their curiosity, and most doctors don't know the answers anyway because there's lots of really interesting stuff that isn't taught in medical school.
Billy Goldberg is a New York emergency room physician and Mark Leyner is a novelist and screenwriter who says he seriously considered becoming a doctor before attending college among "unscrupulous, morbidly neurotic pre-med students." They manage to be simultaneously funny and informative addressing a panoply of questions such as "Can you really explode from eating too much?" (Not really, but you can rupture your stomach) and "Is it true that you can break your penis?" (Yes, sort of.) As to the question posed in the title, one the authors say was foisted on them by their editor, they play it straight, citing the absence of an actually funny answer. (It's because as embryos, we all start out as female.) Other highlights include the best way to avoid tearing up while peeling onions (order carryout) and "Is it dangerous to pop zits?" (Potentially fatal, in rare cases.)
It is very much a "guy" book and an "adult" book, in the film-industry sense (plenty of graphic language and mature themes). There is enthusiastic discussion of bodily functions that gives the book a sort of locker-room vibe. If you fall into the right demographic, you'll find yourself laughing out loud at the answers to questions such as "What is snot?" (This answer is usefully accompanied by a recipe for homemade mucus "to prepare yourself for a career in medicine.") Entertaining? Yes, but it does leave a reader ever more certain that the term "mature male" is an oxymoron.
-- Gregory Mott