The Human Body

John Clancy
(Firefly Books)
We're not so sure about these books that show everything, your inner beesties in such detail. Our veins and white blood cells and the retina with its rods (green) and cones (blue) and the kidney and the Fallopian Tubes all in rich deep color tones. Do you know that the Fallopian Tubes look like shaggy carpets, with little "goblet cells" that don't offer up a cup of wine but look like little knotty burrs in Fido's fur.

And sometime you should turn to page 289 and you see a lovely blue ball with little blue-green fluff coming out of it --- a perfect beach ball --- and the caption says "Pancreatic Cancer" and under that it says "mobile." Means that these little balls are soon going to move out and take over other spots, where they damn well don't belong.

It all comes out of that huge pot called life and death. HIV looks like a big head of romaine lettuce with juicy red dots sprinkled here and there. The uterus looks like a rich cut of Irish brisket resting on some corn meal called the oocytes (nice word, no? pronounced "oh-uh-sahyt.") At birth, you and I and every woman on earth every woman has 500 stacked up inside her enough would-be babies (500+!) to last all her life. The vas deferens with all its greedy little whip-tailed seedlets can't hold a candle to our fecundity.

Nerve synapses look to be old celery. The spleen looks just like it sounds ... green rock-like things and even the boring old hair-follicle appears to be something popping up out of the Brazilian Rain Forest. The Epidermus 40 magnification looks to be the wall of the Grand Canyon, but at 650 it's an Egyptian flat-bread with sesame seeds.

Observing my bones magnified 90 times makes me uneasy (this is me? Are you sure?) And the final of our bouts of fantasy: "White Blood Cells: Eosinophils" looks good enough to eat, even looks like one of my favorite omelets that they make down at Julie's cafe with bits of ham and cheese yum perfect pieces of bacon and big huge slabs of baguettes that she slices ... toasts in a few moments on the grill with real butter not this fake stuff and let me out of here it's time for my lunch break.

I can't think of a nicer book to have around for the kids to look at, for them to get their gummy grape-jam fingers on, smear across the taste buds on page 215 while looking at the teeth, magnification 1,400 turns into a mountainside of blue-berries lying on yellowish lava flow. It's all so appetizing.

It's funny I was thinking with the close up of the ovaries and follicles: it's all a matter of size. The camera drawn back with little magnification and you might be peeking at the outer insides one of one of Larry Flynt's publications. Here it is all sanitized, turned into a septic (I almost wrote "sceptic!") scientific shot, making it perfectly respectable for you and me and Mom and the kids to peruse.

It's only later with demagnification that it turns dangerous, something to set off the alarm bells of the Clean Mind Patrol. Yet this book with its over 300 gorgeous reproductions grown from their blow-up machine is one that is so gorgeous that you might want to cut out a few of these bbies to hang on the refrigerator. Even, alas, the lovely white cells that have been infected by Leukemia, turn to perfect white carnations before your very eyes.

--- Lolita Lark
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