Title Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers
Book Condition 304 pages, 6 x 8, paperback, W. W. Norton
Publisher W. W. Norton May 2004
0393324826 / 9780393324822
Seller ID 324826N
Stiff is 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.
Mary Roach's writing has appeared in Salon, Wired, Outside, GQ, Discover, Vogue, and the New York Times Magazine; her column, "My Planet," appears monthly in Reader's Digest. She lives in San Francisco.
Reviews & Awards
"One of the funniest and most unusual books of the year....Gross, educational, and unexpectedly sidesplitting."—Entertainment Weekly "Fascinating and oddly fun."—San Francisco Chronicle "Roach's dry, irreverent wit makes for a delightful—though never disrespectful—read."—Time Out New York, Les Simpson, 17 April 2003 "Acutely entertaining, morbidly fascinating."—Forbes "A laugh-out-loud funny book....one of those wonderful books that offers enlightenment in the guise of entertainment."—Washington City Paper "As weird as the book gets, Roach manages to convey a sense of respect and appreciation for her subjects."—Los Angeles Times "Expect the insightful with the hilarious."—PW Daily, Bridget Kinsella, 5 May 2003 "Delightful....authoritative, endlessly curious and drolly funny."—Seattle Times, Adam Wong, 11 May 2003 "Outrageously funny, irreverent"—but respectful....so delightfully written, this book is difficult to put down."—Denver Post, Brian Richard Boylan, 11 May 2003 "[Roach] manages to make material that normally comes with a warning for the faint-hearted somehow light-hearted"—San Jose Mercury News, Jill Wolfson, 27 April 2003 "Roach displays her metier in tangents about bizarre incendents in pathological history."—Booklist, Gilbert Taylor, 15 March 2003 "Every detail is fascinating."—Chicago Sun-Times, Henry Kisor, 13 April 2003 "Fascinating, unexpectedly fresh and funny look at the multiplicity of ways in which cadavers benefit the living.... entertaining, absolutely."—Kirkus Reviews starred review "As informative and respectful as it is irreverent and witty....Impossible to put down."—Publishers Weekly starred review "[A] mordantly witty history of the scientific contributions made by the no-longer-living."—Outside "Despite the irreverent, macabre title, this is a respectful and serious examination of what happens to cadavers, past and present."—Library Journal, Michael D. Cramer, 1 March 2003 "Droll, dark, and quite wise, Stiff makes being dead funny and fascinating and weirdly appealing."—Susan Orlean "As fascinating as it is funny.... The research is admirable, the anecdotes carefully chosen, and the prose lively; and they combine to produce a book that everyone in the health care field should have to read, and everyone else will want to."—Caleb Carr, author of The Alienist "A fascinating book and, once you pick it up, you won't likely put it down."—Wisconsin State Journal, William R. Wineke, 14 September 2003 "A fascinating survey of the data yielded by corpses both medieval and modern."—Discover Magazine, 1 June 2003 "A funny but never disrespectful look at the curious world of cadaver research."—Netsurfer.com, 9 May 2003 "A joy to read....this is wonderful stuff."—San Francisco Bay Guardian, Tim Redmond, 28 May 2003 "A quick and compelling, if slightly uneasy, read."—Philadelphia City Paper, Justin Bauer, 26 June 2003 "A very funny book....full of surprises."—Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Craig McLaughlin, 27 July 2003 "An informative, gently funny but never irreverent look at the various uses society makes of the dead."—Forum, Tom Pantera, 1 June 2003 "An unflinching, often hilarious cultural history."—The Stranger, Erica C. Barnett, 30 October 2003 "Bizarrely entertaining."—Memphis Flyer, Susan Ellis, 14 August 2003 "Bring[s] alive a subject that has the potential to be deadly dull."—Chicago Tribune, Steve Fiffer, 29 June 2003 "Every page fairly drips with dark humor."—San Francisco Weekly, Matt Palmquist, 30 April 2003 "Genuinely funny and destined to be a classic read."—Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Donald A. Collins, 1 June 2003 "Her morbid subject—perverse, unsettling and voyeuristic—makes her book hard to put down"—Columbus Dispatch, Dean Narcisco, 27 May 2003 "It's a rare talent that can make people want to throw up and laugh at the same time."—Los Angeles Times Book Review, Roy Rivenberg, 7 July 2003 "Lively and quirky....the writer's style is genuinely warm...she has a keen eye for observation of unique and ironic details."—San Antonio Express-News, Michael Jaffee, 1 June 2003 "Mary Roach is an extremely funny science writer."—Natural History, Laurence A. Marschall, June 2003 "Our own instinctive discomfort with death provides fodder for Roach's dry sense of humor throughout the book."—Washington Post, Ana Marie Cox, 4 June 2003 "Roach exhibits both a keen sense of humor and a sincere respect for the dearly departed."—American Scientist, F.D., July/August 2003 "Roach is a masterful writer....Irreverent? Maybe a little. Disrespectful? Emphatically no."—Hippo Press, Manchester, NH, Lisa Parsons, 19 June 2003 "Roach saw some macabre things, but she describes them with respect and irresistible humor."—Austin American-Statesman, 27 April 2003 "Roach traces the use of the cadaver...and describes odd, behind-the-scenes moments perfect to halt all discussion at dinner."—Philadelphia News, T.D. Mobley-Martinez, 12 June 2003 "Roach's conversational tone and her gallows humor bring her subjects to life....Morbidly entertaining."—People Magazine, Alex Abramovich, 2 June 2003 "Roach's deliberate carefulness diminishes the topic's gore and sets a comfortable, comic tone that finds solace in its own oddity."—New City, Tom Lynch, 22 May 2003 "Roach...goes into gruesome detail, but she also succeeds in not making the subject at hand too morbid."—Willamette Week, Kim Colton, 21 May 2003 "Surprisingly entertaining. Similar in tone to Bill Bryson's travel books, Roach manages to be humorous yet respectful."—Chattanooga Times Free Press, Rick Mathis, 3 August 2003 "The numerous tidbits of information derived from the author's travels and interviews make [this book] uniquely appealing."—Journal of the American Medical Association, Joseph H. Davis, MD, 16 July 2003 "This bizarre tome will shock, disgust, intrigue and entertain you all at the same time."—Coral Gables Gazette, Mary Morrison, 25 September 2003 "Though the cover...will draw many readers to this book, its deft prose will keep them returning."—Dallas Morning News, Fred Bortz, 27 July 2003 "Well written, with a reader-friendly format."—Science Books and Films, Howard S. Pitkow, August 2003 "Well-written and deadly funny."—Good Times Magazine, Bruce Willey, 19 June 2003 "What saves the subject matter from intolerable gruesomeness is Roach. Her interest is genuine, despite her droll tone."—Portland Oregonian, B.T. Shaw, 25 May 2003 "Whimsical, hysterical and terribly interesting."—Detroit Free Press, Katy Human"—Scripps Howard News Service, 31 May 2003 "[Roach's] firsthand accounts of places and people make this a captivating look at life after death."—Science News, 17 May 2003 "[Roach's] knack for detailed research and loose Dave Barry-ish style makes Stiff a leisurely and enjoyable read."—Daily Yomiuri, Tom Westin, 11 May 2003 "[Roach] artfully and humorously unwraps the mystery of the dead body....an interesting and informative read."—Richmond Times-Dispatch, Deborah Love, 21 September 2003 "[Roach] has written a curiously funny, touching and respectful study."—Tampa Tribune & Times, Nancy Summers, 17 August 2003
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