Author David Haviland really dug into history to come up with some pretty esoteric stories in his compilation Why You Should Store Your Farts in a Jar (And Other Oddball or Gross Maladies, Afflictions, Remedies, and “Cures”).
This was a book I was really looking forward to reading. I have a strange sense of humor and an interest in the bizarre. I collect weird factoids to be more entertaining as a human and to help me through my shyness when I need a little boost. I have to admit, I was a bit let down.
There is no question the book lives up to its subtitle and is, indeed, a collection of “oddball or gross maladies, afflictions, remedies and cures.” The question is whether you have the taste for such fare. Mr. Haviland’s stories are surely odd enough and in some cases, gross enough to warrant a read; however, this kind of book depends on the reader’s taste. Those into gross, weird, and bizarre things will enjoy Farts in a Jar, while the rest will not.
Given my tastes and predilections, I was surprised that I felt a bit disappointed by the time I finished the book. It didn’t help that the title story of why one might want to capture a fart in a jar was gross and sounded a bit thin. Perhaps I realized that I don’t want to be grossed out, something Mr. Haviland was able to do to me several more times. Again, for those into grossness, this is a good thing, and you will enjoy the read. In fact, it points to the author’s literary capabilities and skill regarding what is interesting—albeit a bit sick.
So maybe I don’t like to be grossed out. Or maybe this book requires a nine-year-old boy’s sensibilities. What bothered me, more, however, was that so many of the stories seemed flat. I just wasn’t interested in them. It wasn’t that they weren’t well written, odd, gross, or even strange. Most just didn’t tickle my fancy—and those that did were stuck in between half a dozen so-so episodes of history or already known facts.
It wasn’t until I read the book’s blurb that I understood why I came away a bit disappointed. Farts In a Jar is the fourth in a series of similar, oddball, and gross story collections by David Haviland. These include Why Dogs Eat Poop, Why Fish Fart, and Why You Shouldn’t Eat Your Boogers. Then it hit me! While this collection is acceptable for the few good stories and the reason below, there really shouldn’t be a fifth in the series. The good stories have now all been told.