Answers to life’s questions

Dedicated to Dr. Dre, Dr. Cliff Huxtable, Dr Pepper, Dr. Evil and Dr. Doogie Howser – among other assorted docs – Why Do Men Have Nipples? attempts to answer questions to which no one seems to have the answers. More specifically, it asks, “Hundreds of Questions You’d Only Ask Your Doctor After Your Third Martini,” as its subtitle boasts. The book is full of dry humor and obscure information that makes it an easy and entertaining read.

Billy Goldberg, an ER doctor, presented the idea for the book – which he calls a “heroic project” – to Mark Leyner, a screenwriter obsessed with medicine, when they met while working on the short-lived ABC show Wonderland. Leyner had been interested in odd medical cases since childhood but decided against being a doctor when he met the “future doctors of America” in what he called a “bunch of whining, ass-kissing, unscrupulous, morbidly neurotic pre-med students.”

Leyner considers himself a “Dionysian postmodern superhero,” so he probably wouldn’t have fit in at med school, anyway. Needless to say, Goldberg found him to be an ideal partner in writing about medical oddities.

Written from the first-person perspective of Goldberg, the book is casual and slightly sarcastic. It does not sound like it is written by a doctor, but rather a guy who knows a lot about the medical disciplines and his strange friend whose random interjections induce guttural laughter. For example, between two random questions there is a list of Leyner’s favorite “ass-vocabulary.” The list is only two words long: “callipygian: having beautifully proportioned buttocks” and “steatopygic: an extreme accumulation of fat on the buttocks.”

Also found throughout the pages of Why Do Men Have Nipples? are trivia and dialogue between the authors. Goldberg and Leyner become hilarious characters in this nonfiction book with no plotline.

The questions are categorized into nine chapters, including “You Are What You Eat,” “Body Oddities,” “All You (N)ever Wanted to Know About Sex,” “Drugs and Alcohol,” “Bathroom Humor,” “Old Wives’ Tales” and “Getting Older.”

In “You Are What You Eat,” Leyner offers a schedule for weaning yourself off caffeine: “Monday — double espresso; Tuesday — latte; Wednesday — single espresso; Thursday — Snapple iced tea; Friday — soy half-decaf mocha cappuccino; Saturday — a 12-ounce Coke; Sunday — beer (no caffeine and a wonderful breakfast treat).”

After Goldberg explains why yawns are contagious in “Body Oddities,” Leyner offers a list of “several things we can be thankful are not contagious.” The list includes “drooling, nosebleeds, itching, seizures and farting.”

Goldberg and Leyner deliver interestingly disgusting medical information in a light, comical way that would appeal to just about anyone. The book costs $12.95 and can be picked up at the USF Bookstore for 30 percent off.

m Grade: B+Three Rivers Press Released July 26, 2005MSRP.: $12.95