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Stiff Audiobook

Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers

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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.

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.

©2003 Mary Roach; (P)2003 Tantor Media, Inc.

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)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.2 (5128 )
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Performance
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  •  
    elaine United States 01-01-12
    elaine United States 01-01-12 Member Since 2011

    I'm an avid audible book listener. I am a huge fan of supernatural books and like stuff that is scary but well written. I live in Denver Co

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    "Interesting if you don't mind gross!"

    I didn't finish because it was pretty graphic about what happens to a body after death but it was interesting. I did pass it on to my son who is entering medical school. He liked it!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    M. 12-27-11
    M. 12-27-11
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    "Informative, yet not overly serious about it"

    Mary Roach's compilation on the lives of human cadavers is extremely interesting, and told with a humorous edge so as to not freak out the listener. I well done book!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    MightyLord 12-27-11
    MightyLord 12-27-11 Member Since 2016

    Retired military. Spend my time just listening to books, when i cant handle reading.

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    "Just like they all said."
    What did you love best about Stiff?

    It really is interesting and funny, and nauseatingly gross.


    What other book might you compare Stiff to and why?

    I don't know any other book like this.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    I was nauseatingly cheerful while listening to this book


    Any additional comments?

    I would recommend this to any youth that is thinking seriously about a medical career.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michelle Rio Rancho, NM, United States 12-27-11
    Michelle Rio Rancho, NM, United States 12-27-11 Member Since 2013

    I love audio books, fiction and nonfiction. I seem to be drawn to the Scandinavian writers and their narrators.

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    "Entertainingly informative"
    Where does Stiff rank among all the audiobooks you???ve listened to so far?

    In the nonfiction category somewhere in the middle.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    No characters


    What does Shelly Frasier bring to the story that you wouldn???t experience if you just read the book?

    Shelly informs some of the passages with humor by her vocal timings and inflections.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    No


    Any additional comments?

    It was very informative and highlighted some misconceptions I had about the subject matter.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ariel Pembroke Pines, FL, United States 12-26-11
    Ariel Pembroke Pines, FL, United States 12-26-11
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    "I liked it, very interesting and entertaining."
    Any additional comments?

    I wasn't sure about buying this book when I read some of the previous reviews, but I liked it and will definitely recommended.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    kelda 12-26-11
    kelda 12-26-11 Member Since 2010
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    "Informative read"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    An interesting look at what happens with the body after death. Presented in a straight-forward manner, not skipping on details but not purposely gory or morbid. This book explores thinks like being donated to science, the embalming process and a general overview of the processes a body goes through. The author throws in bits of her own thinking along the way, acknowledging the touchy and sometimes squeamish subject matter at hand with wit and sometimes skepticism. You will have a chuckle or two with her along the way. Overall, a very enjoyable way to become informed on the unusual topic of the body after.


    What other book might you compare Stiff to and why?

    Sort of a textbook, but the kind that is interesting and not too stiff (no pun intended). Due to the educational matter and how it is formatted into specific sections, leading and building upon one another.


    What does Shelly Frasier bring to the story that you wouldn???t experience if you just read the book?

    You get a sense of camaraderie and understanding when she expresses discomfort or a sense of just being weirded out by some of the subject matter. It makes your average Joe feel that he is not alone in his discomfort with some of the material presented in this book.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    The Life of a Stiff


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Emjay 12-26-11
    Emjay 12-26-11 Member Since 2008
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    "Interesting View! Fun and informative. Must Read"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    This book was very informative and very interesting with quite a lot of humor.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    The author


    Have you listened to any of Shelly Frasier’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    This was my first but definetly not my last.


    What’s the most interesting tidbit you’ve picked up from this book?

    Choices we have after death and how lucky we are to live in such a time with the advances of medicine. In part because of cadavers.


    Any additional comments?

    This book is one of my favorite listens. It is very well performed and the author put in so much time she invested and all of the things she saw, smelled, and listened. I have recommended this book to my family and friends.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Leilani Kaysville, UT, United States 12-26-11
    Leilani Kaysville, UT, United States 12-26-11 Member Since 2009
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    "Too graphic"
    Would you try another book from Mary Roach and/or Shelly Frasier?

    No. Her taste runs a bit dark for me. Too graphic for my over-imagination and weak stomach.


    What do you think your next listen will be?

    The power of one.


    What about Shelly Frasier’s performance did you like?

    The narrator was good and her writing style was very descriptive


    Any additional comments?

    I didn't make it far into this book. Only about 20 minutes. It was fun and witty and I was enjoying myself until she began describing the chopped cadaver heads in roasting pans

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    LucyLu 12-23-11
    LucyLu 12-23-11 Member Since 2010

    Non-fiction, fiction--I read widely. Except bodice rippers. I'd rather pull my own eyelashes out than read romance. Avid, happy reader.

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    "Animal Softies Beware"

    What a waste of a really terrific narrator, and some wry, very funny humor on the part of the author. This book will literally make you feel sick, and that's coming from a criminologist with a pretty strong stomach. The worst part, though, is about halfway through, when she shifts her attention (why?) to medical research featuring live animals rather than cadavers . . . and describes the things done to them in graphic, horrible detail. This isn't brief, and I couldn't get through it (finally wondering why I was even trying).

    Only audible book I haven't finished, ever. It's sad, because Roach is freaking funny, and Frasier's narration is just dead pan-perfect for the humor. The gore, and finally, the animal stuff, was just too much for me.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bookbums 12-22-11
    Bookbums 12-22-11
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Loved it"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Stiff to be better than the print version?

    Loved the narrator, but the production was not top quality..


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Stiff?

    The idea of med students holding a memorial service for their dissection cadavers.


    Which character – as performed by Shelly Frasier – was your favorite?

    This is not a book of characters - just Mary, the researcher, and the stiffs.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Yes, but went well in intervals too


    Any additional comments?

    Made a very good job of what what might be considered a very sensitive subject.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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