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Body of Work: Meditations on Mortality from the Human Anatomy Lab | [Christine Montross]

Body of Work: Meditations on Mortality from the Human Anatomy Lab

Christine Montross was a nervous first-year medical student, standing outside the anatomy lab on her first day of class, preparing herself for what was to come. Entering a room with stainless-steel tables topped by corpses in body bags is shocking, no matter how long you've prepared yourself, but a strange thing happened when Montross met her cadaver.
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Publisher's Summary

This is a hauntingly moving memoir of the relationship between a cadaver named Eve and the first-year medical student who cuts her open.

Christine Montross was a nervous first-year medical student, standing outside the anatomy lab on her first day of class, preparing herself for what was to come. Entering a room with stainless-steel tables topped by corpses in body bags is shocking, no matter how long you've prepared yourself, but a strange thing happened when Montross met her cadaver. Instead of being disgusted by her, she was utterly intrigued: intrigued by the person the woman once was, humbled by the sacrifice she had made in donating her body to science, and fascinated by the strange, unsettling beauty of the human form. They called her Eve. This is the story of Montross and Eve, the student and the subject, and the surprising relationship that grew between them.

Body of Work is a mesmerizing, rarely seen glimpse into the day-to-day life of a medical student. Christine Montross was a poet long before she became a doctor, and she brings an uncommon perspective to the emotional difficulty of the first year of medical school: the dispiriting task of remaining clinical and detached while in the anatomy lab, and the struggle with the line you've crossed by violating another's body once you leave it.

Montross was so affected by her experience with Eve that she undertook to learn more about the history of cadavers and the study of anatomy. Her disturbing, often entertaining anecdotes enrich this exquisitely crafted memoir, endowing an eerie beauty to the world of a doctor-in-training. Body of Work is an unforgettable examination of the mysteries of the human body and a remarkable look at our relationship with both the living and the dead.

©2007 Christine Montross; (P)2007 Tantor Media Inc.

What the Critics Say

"How lucky we are that a poet decided to become a physician....Montross is a master of detail." (Katrina Firlik, M.D., neurosurgeon and author of Another Day in the Frontal Lobe)
"Her thoughtful meditations on balancing clinical detachment and emotional engagement will easily find a spot on the shortlist of great med-school literature." (Publishers Weekly)

What Members Say

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3.9 (68 )
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4.2 (18 )
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  •  
    A. Kiss 09-20-10
    A. Kiss 09-20-10
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    "Astonishingly good -- who'd have thought it?"

    When one of my book club members chose this for our next read most of us were pretty skeptical -- reading about someone dissecting a cadaver?? But the book grabs you and holds on to you from first page to last... a wonderful mix of story telling, philosophy, history, science and even humor.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jheron Pataskala, OH, USA 05-16-08
    Jheron Pataskala, OH, USA 05-16-08 Member Since 2008
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    "Simply Amazing!"

    I loved this book from the moment I hit play. This book should be a mandatory listen for any student that is going to the Cadaver lab. I am taking A&P right now and will have Cadaver lab next semester and now have a better idea what to expect. God bless Dr. Montronss for this "Body of Work." I purchased the hard copy so that it could be in my collection. I have actually read a couple of chapters just because I love the way that she writes so much. From Delaware to Bolongna, Dublin, Ireland to San Francisco, this book has it all!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael NAPERVILLE, IL, United States 09-02-07
    Michael NAPERVILLE, IL, United States 09-02-07 Member Since 2005
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    "Death brought to life"

    Documenting the rite of passage for all medical students in the anatomy lab...dissection of a human cadaver. Throw in a little history of dissection, some medical terminology, a great narrator, and some emotional anecdotes; allow to soak in as needed and you have a recipe for a good read (or listen)!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    vallerie Philadelphia, PA, United States 10-16-11
    vallerie Philadelphia, PA, United States 10-16-11
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    "Great! philosophy, anatomy and history combined"

    truly fascinating story. Makes me feel even better about my prior decision to donate my body.
    good insight for college students contemplating med school or anybody who will have to take anatomy . Good listen for anybody interested in medical history too. reader has great voice for the part.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 02-09-08
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    "Engaging"

    The author found that others had great curiosity about what it was like in a dissection lab, and decided to write about her experience. I bought the book for my spouse (who is in the medical field), but found it extremely engaging. With great sensitivity the author takes you on a unique journey that is normally outside the experience of the lay person. As an added bonus, you will gain added appreciation for the human body, and ponder your own mortality.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
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