June 2008

June 2008

Book: Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach
When: Friday, June 27th @ 7pm
Where: Shelley’s House

From Publishers Weeklystiff.jpg
“Uproariously funny” doesn’t seem a likely description for a book on cadavers. However, Roach, a Salon and Reader’s Digest columnist, has done the nearly impossible and written a book as informative and respectful as it is irreverent and witty. From her opening lines (“The way I see it, being dead is not terribly far off from being on a cruise ship. Most of your time is spent lying on your back”), it is clear that she’s taking a unique approach to issues surrounding death. Roach delves into the many productive uses to which cadavers have been put, from medical experimentation to applications in transportation safety research (in a chapter archly called “Dead Man Driving”) to work by forensic scientists quantifying rates of decay under a wide array of bizarre circumstances. There are also chapters on cannibalism, including an aside on dumplings allegedly filled with human remains from a Chinese crematorium, methods of disposal (burial, cremation, composting) and “beating-heart” cadavers used in organ transplants. Roach has a fabulous eye and a wonderful voice as she describes such macabre situations as a plastic surgery seminar with doctors practicing face-lifts on decapitated human heads and her trip to China in search of the cannibalistic dumpling makers. Even Roach’s digressions and footnotes are captivating, helping to make the book impossible to put down.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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6 thoughts on “June 2008

  1. Amanda

    I am still pluggin’ away…I skipped a big portion of the military chapter, it was way too boring for me. I think I am on the chapter about “beating heart” cadavers and I feel like I have been reading it forever. Maybe tonight I will get that one done and finally move onto the next chapter. 🙂

  2. elliek

    So, I’m really enjoying this book…although there have been moments that I have been a little grossed out. I went to bed last night right after reading the chaper on cannibalism (I was a little worried that I would have some weird dreams! – which I did but not about eating people!) It such an interesting book but it really is quite morbid…but funny…I have actually chuckled out loud several times.

  3. Amanda

    Yeah — my husband gives me this look every time I laugh while reading the book that says something like “You are so gross for laughing at that kind of sick stuff. It’s just not right…” LOL — I love it!!