Stiff

  • by Mary Roach
  • Narrated by Shelly Frasier
  • 8 hrs and 5 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

An oddly compelling, often hilarious exploration of the strange lives of our bodies postmortem.For two thousand years, cadavers (some willingly, some unwittingly) have been involved in science's boldest strides and weirdest undertakings. They've tested France's first guillotines, ridden the NASA Space Shuttle, been crucified in a Parisian laboratory to test the authenticity of the Shroud of Turin, and helped solve the mystery of TWA Flight 800. For every new surgical procedure, from heart transplants to gender reassignment surgery, cadavers have been there alongside surgeons, making history in their quiet way.
In this fascinating, ennobling account, Mary Roach visits the good deeds of cadavers over the centuries from the anatomy labs and human-sourced pharmacies of medieval and nineteenth-century Europe to a human decay research facility in Tennessee, to a plastic surgery practice lab, to a Scandinavian funeral directors' conference on human composting. In her droll, inimitable voice, Roach tells the engrossing story of our bodies when we are no longer with them.

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Audible Editor Reviews

Mary Roach unzips the body bag and tells us far more than we thought we wanted to know about what happens to our bodies after we pass away. And yet somehow, she makes you want to know even more. It's like watching something repulsive but fascinating through cracks in the fingers you placed over your eyes so you wouldn't see. The author takes a deliberately humorous, academic tone as she describes these fascinating atrocities, and Shelly Frasier mirrors the author's tone perfectly. That very dry humor pervades the entire book; never cynical or condescending, never adolescent or tasteless, and it makes what could be a ghastly, repellent subject surprisingly upbeat and entertaining. Despite all that, we can't recommend that you listen to this audio book with a bunch of 11- or 12-year-old girls in the car with you, unless you enjoy hearing "Eeeew - gross!" squealed in a high-pitched voice over and over again. To some, that would be a fate worse than...well, death.

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What the Critics Say



Alex Award Winner, 2004
"Uproariously funny....informative and respectful...irreverent and witty....impossible to put down." (Publishers Weekly)
"Not grisly but inspiring, this work considers the many valuable scientific uses of the body after death." (Library Journal)
"One of the funniest and most unusual books of the year." (Entertainment Weekly)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Really enjoyed

What did you like most about Stiff?

I liked the way the author questioned the reality of the human corpse and how this vessel can serve a new purpose after the should has left it.


Who was your favorite character and why?

No favorite character but I did like the report on the plastic surgeons and how they perceived these cadavers.


Which scene did you most enjoy?

No scene but I found it interesting the disposal of bodies and how aviation has used corpses to improve issues of safety


Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

I think it would be the plastic surgeons and the humanity that they share with the dead person that they are practising upon.


Any additional comments?

I really enjoyed the book and the narration, well worth a purchase

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- Preety

This is so cool!

I love learning new things and finding out how things work. This is no exception!
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- Ian

Book Details

  • Release Date: 26-02-2004
  • Publisher: Tantor Audio