They Popped My Hood and Found Gravy on the Dipstick
Todd Starnes

Pathway Press
Hardcover/240 pages
ISBN: 1-596844361
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". . .interspersed with humility and a wonderful sense of timing and the absurd."

They Popped my Hood and Found Gravy on the Dipstick: One man’s experience with open heart surgery from a sometimes humorous Christian perspective.

“Todd, if you don’t have this surgery, you will die.” It was no way to end a visit to the doctor’s office for a simple case of bronchitis, but Todd Starnes had to face it. His bronchitis was in reality an enlarged heart with a genetically malformed aortic valve. Time was running out.

At 300 pounds, Todd Starnes was at high risk for open heart surgery, but he dealt with it the way he deals with everything—with hyperbole and humor. Todd would need a lot of humor to get through the ordeal of healing from surgery and the next three years as he works to lose weight and run the New York marathon.

One of the major components of They Popped my Hood and Found Gravy on the Dipstick is Starnes’s Christian faith. It is woven throughout his journey in Bible verses and central to his own personal philosophy and commitment to change. It is impossible to take Starnes’s story, remove the Christian perspective, and still have a story. Christianity is front and center throughout. The humor is just gravy on the buttermilk biscuits, and there’s plenty of humor.

The humor is at times a bit forced, but that’s not difficult to understand. Humor in the face of impending doom and possible death is always a bit strained, but it works and gave me a sense of what Starnes is like. From the first words after having the ventilator tube removed and being asked what he needed – “I need a woman.” – to the first appearance of returning bowel function when a nurse arrived in his room – “Oh, this is wonderful news… Todd is passing gas!” – while friends visited, Starnes’s story is “a real gas.”

His heartfelt descriptions of his quirky Southern Baptist family and his first steps after surgery and as he begins to train for the marathon are real gems. This tale is interspersed with humility and a wonderful sense of timing and the absurd. Well done, Todd.


Reviewer: J. M. Cornwell