Lousy Sex

Creating Self in an Infectious World

by Gerald N. Callahan

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"Lousy Sex attempts to answer the ages-old question of what is self, but instead becomes a fascinating memoir that fuses science and philosophy into a poignant portrait of the human self. . . . Callahan's prose is more poetic than scientific. He imbues a sense of wonder in his subject while punctuating how entwined our biological and psychological halves are to one another—destruction of one leads to a sense of loss for the other."
—Nancy Powell, Shelf Awareness

"Callahan takes the reader on a fascinating trip defining and clarifying how people, wood lice, fish, and various other forms procreate and create their own concept of self. Rather like Mary Roach, Callahan has a knack for writing about scientific topics for the general reader. . . . As proven in his other works, Callahan is a genuine storyteller who seamlessly combines scientific concepts with everyday life, giving his readers fascinating knowledge in an imminently readable book."
—Lynn Evarts, ForeWord Reviews

"By eloquently combining personal stories and accessible scientific information, Callahan presents and illuminating discussion of who we are and what our place is in the world. Lousy Sex is definitely a fun, quick and thought-provoking read."
—Tara J. Cepon Robins, American Journal of Human Biology

"This collection of essays is highly accessible and will be of interest to both professionals and diletantes. I recommend it to every 'man and alewife' (read the book)."
—Clint Kelly, The Quaterly Review of Biology


In Lousy Sex, Gerald Callahan explores the science of self, illustrating the immune system's role in forming individual identity. Blending the scientific essay with deeply personal narratives, these poignant and enlightening stories use microbiology and immunology to explore a new way to answer the question, who am I?

"Self" has many definitions. Science has demonstrated that 90 percent of the cells in our bodies are bacteria: we are in many respects more non-self than self. In Lousy Sex, Callahan considers this microbio-neuro perspective on human identity together with the soulful, social perception of self, drawing on both art and science to illuminate this relationship fully.

In his stories about where we came from and who we are, Callahan uses autobiographical episodes to illustrate his scientific points. Through stories about the sex lives of wood lice, the biological advantages of eating dirt, the question of immortality, the relationship between syphilis and the musical genius of Beethoven, and more, this book creates another way—a chimeric way—of seeing ourselves. The general reader with an interest in science will find Lousy Sex fascinating.



Listen to Gerald Callahan interviewed about Lousy Sex on Colorado Matters
Listen to Gerald Callahan interviewed about Lousy Sex on Access Utah
Listen to Gerald Callahan interviewed about Lousy Sex on BYU Radio


Gerald N. Callahan is a professor in the Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Pathology and the Department of English at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, where he lives with his wife and dog. He is the author of Lousy Sex; Between XX and XY: Intersexuality and the Myth of Two Sexes; Faith, Madness, and Spontaneous Human Combustion: What Immunology Can Teach Us about Self-Perception; Infection: The Uninvited Universe; and River Odyssey: A Story of the Colorado Plateau; and co-author of Basic Veterinary Immunology.

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  • Paperback Price: $20.95
  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-60732-232-0
  • Ebook Price: $16.95
  • 30-day ebook rental price: $5.99
  • EISBN: 978-1-60732-233-7
  • Download a Chapter: $1.99
  • Publication Month: July
  • Publication Year: 2013
  • Pages: 240
  • Illustrations: 13 b&w photographs
  • Discount Type: Trade
  • Author: by Gerald N. Callahan
  • ECommerce Code: 978-1-60732-232-0
  • Get Permissions: Get Permission

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