Hold your breath: Wind Breaks soon

Is there anything more embarrassing, distracting, hilarious or inappropriate than a fart? Your mom made you excuse yourself after one, your friends cracked up when you let one loose in the middle of a history lecture and chili seems to make them worse. Wouldn’t you like to know what’s up with excess gas?

Professor Terry Bolin and Rosemary Stanton, the authors of Wind Breaks: Coming to Terms with Flatulence, figured that people might be interested in what causes that smelly air that plagues us.

Bolin, a prominent gastroenterologist, and Stanton, Australia’s best-known nutritionist, tackle head-on the medical facts of digestion, gassy foods and how to de-gas your body. Although the book is chock-full of facts and figures, the authors keep things upbeat and hilarious, with little cartoons to illustrate their points.

They provide, for our enjoyment and knowledge, lists of euphemisms (“trouser cough” tops the list), a glossary of technical (and not-so-technical) terms, medical curiosities (for instance, onions and garlic contain compounds that add their own special odors to gases) and bizarre tidbits (like the story of Petomane, the 19th-century performer whose only instrument was gas).

Interspersed throughout the book are quotes and facts that, somehow or another, relate to the topic of flatulence. Some of the most classic include: “He o hitte shiri tsubome,” a Japanese proverb that translates as “No use scrunching your buttocks after a fart” and “Better to burp and bear the shame/ Than squelch the belch and bear the pain,” a gem which no author has claimed (i.e., it’s anonymous).

To find out what foods to avoid on a date, why some farts make noise and others don’t and what causes burps, grab a copy of Wind Breaks.

It’s available for $5.99 at bookstores everywhere as of today.