“When all aloud the wind doth blow”

Book publishers are not slow to spot a winner, especially when it comes to the olfactory sensitivities and lack of decorum of children. No surprise, then, that a new book about farts will soon assail the public’s eyes and nostrils.

Later this year the Autumn Publishing Group is launching a new range of scented books based on “ground-breaking new technology based on micro-encapsulation and touch activation.” Reminiscent of experiments in scratch-and-sniff magazines and books in the 1980s, the new technology employs smells with a shelf-life of up to three years. It hasn’t been used in books before.

According to Autumn’s managing director, “This advanced technology and the smells it creates are so real they take children’s reading to a magical new level. We wanted to inject some fun into the reading experience and this is a powerful way to do just that.” You have been warned: The magical new level is a low one and the odours will be powerful.

The Smellessence list will appear in July 2012 with four-titles in the SPLOTZ!™ range, a group of characters “with a distinct smell and personality to match”. Each of the books will contain nine “smelly stickers”. Also forthcoming – so to say – is a book called The Greatest Farter, to be released – if that’s the word – in mid-2012. The pong will be on the last page.

Autumn Publishing is only cashing in on what every adult knows: that farts are of great interest to young children. Books about farts began to appear in 1990 and the following short-list requires more research (possibly by a PhD student in social communications or the humanities):

  • The Last Fart Book by Donald Wetzel (1990)
  • The Fart Book by Donald Wetzel (1994)
  • Who Cut the Cheese?: A Cultural History of the Fart by Jim Dawson (1998)
  • The Gas We Pass: The Story of Farts (My Body Science) by Shinta Cho (2001)
  • Walter the Farting Dog, a series of children’s books by William Kotzwinkle and Glenn Murray, illustrated by Audrey Colman (2011).
  • The Magic Fart by Piers Anthony (2003)
  • The Art of the Fart by Steve Bryant (2004)
  • Blame It on the Dog: A Modern History of the Fart by Jim Dawson (2006)
  • Farts: A Spotter’s Guide by Craig S. Bower (2008).
  • Bubble Homes and Fish Farts by Fiona Bayrock and Carolyn Conahan(2009)
  • Doctor Proctor’s Fart Powder by Jo Nesbo, Mike Lowery and Tara Chace (2009)
  • Did Somebody Step on a Duck: A Natural History of the Fart by Jim Dawson (2010)
  • The Official Fart Book by Craig Yoe (2010)

A well-known real-life fart story is told by lyricist and librettist Alan Jay Lerner in his autobiography The Street Where I Live (1978) and involves the famous actor Rex Harrison. It originates in a performance of the musical My Fair Lady:

“In the fourth scene of the second act which takes place in Mrs. Higgins’ winter garden, running across the rear of the stage was a small series of rectangular flowerpots. Rex had no sooner made his entrance than he had an uncontrollable desire to relieve a sudden excess of wind that had lodged itself in his lower abdomen. Being an actor of considerable discipline, he waited for the moment when he went up behind the flowerpots to pace up and down in irritation. Once there he let go. Unfortunately there was more wind in need of egress than he had contemplated and from behind the potted flowers came one of the loudest farts ever heard in the history of the theatre. Despite the unique volume there was no doubt what it was and whence its source. The audience behaved beautifully and bit their tongues. Mrs. Higgins’ next line is: ‘Henry, dear. Please don’t grind your teeth.’ Again the audience held on. Finally – and it was a good minute later – Higgins comes downstage to where Eliza is sitting and says: ‘My manners are the same as Colonel Pickering’s.’ That did it. The audience could contain itself no longer. The laughter began to roll through the house, through the entire scene and on into the next.”

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One comment on ““When all aloud the wind doth blow”

  1. Randy Naylor says:

    One should not forget, of course, the now classic childrens book by Canadian author Robert Munsch. The highly successful (especially for the publishers) author tells of taking his book Good Families Don’t to his publisher. After much laughter the publisher said ‘of course, we would never publish it’.

    Munsch tried a rival publishing house who published it and it became a runaway success.

    Typically Canadian, Munsch was inspired to write the story after driving his young son and his friends to hockey practice. During the trip…well, you know what happened and the boys could hardly stop laughing all the way to the ice hockey area.

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