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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

4.1 (4971 )
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Performance
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  •  
    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
  •  
    Thomas Sewell, NJ, United States 12-21-11
    Thomas Sewell, NJ, United States 12-21-11 Member Since 2014
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    "Interesting and OK"

    I expected something slightly different, but then again how would I know what to expect from this. It covered a lot of areas and topics and not just about what happens to your body right after you pass. What they do with donated bodies was interesting and a big part of the story. But it really helped my perspective on this topic and gave me a better knowledge base. It has some typical filler and conversation within, but I think the author did the work required to investigate the subject well, and its appreciated. If you're interested, then go ahead and get it. It will be enlightening.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rupe Jacksonville, FL, United States 12-20-11
    Rupe Jacksonville, FL, United States 12-20-11 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Anything but Stiff"
    Any additional comments?

    Probably one of the weirdest books I have every read; and I probably would not have purchased it, had it not been on sale.

    I am glad I did, however, and must admit that I found it most interesting and admittedly engaging.

    Ms Roach does have a knack for making the bizarre pretty accessible. If you ever had thoughts about donating your body to science or any other purpose, this book might give you pause or at least give you another thought point.

    It is hard not to recommend, but be prepared for the unexpected…ruhaaahhaaaahh!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Roberto 12-20-11
    Roberto 12-20-11 Member Since 2009
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    "Anthropolgy of Stiff's"
    Would you try another book from Mary Roach and/or Shelly Frasier?

    Yeah, I would as this was recommmended to me by my daughter - an antropolgy undergraduate.


    What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

    The history is a subject never approached by anybody. I enjoyed the actual conversation on how how a body is dismembered and yet, the people remain very much in touch with both the subject and the studies.


    What about Shelly Frasier’s performance did you like?

    The realism and candor on the subject matter was done very tastefully and in regard to the topic of Stiff's.


    Could you see Stiff being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

    Absolutely NOT! Not a best seller as this type book caters to a few of us who want knowledge of an unknown topic we do not discuss or ever study.


    Any additional comments?

    Had this book not been recommended by my daughter, I would never have read it. Tough subject and not for everybody's reading taste.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dr. Unionville, VA, United States 12-19-11
    Dr. Unionville, VA, United States 12-19-11 Listener Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Not for the faint of heart or stomach."
    What did you love best about Stiff?

    I enjoyed the nonchalance; I thought the author did an excellent job taking the edge off a subject that we all face but really don't want to think about.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Stiff?

    I never thought about composting as an alternative to more traditional choices.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    The closing scene where the author lays out her personal choices. After what she went through, her opinion was valuable.


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

    This will never happen.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lidwine Saulnierville, NS, Canada 12-19-11
    Lidwine Saulnierville, NS, Canada 12-19-11 Member Since 2016
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    6
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    "Extremely informative and a delight to listen too!"
    What did you love best about Stiff?

    The story line as well as the narrator researched the subject matter, and this was a delightful story to listen too. The narrator has a nack for putting the emphasis on areas that were meant to be lighthearted. Overall I would give this an A+ and would love to read as well as listen to other novels by this author. Loved it!!!

    This is a subject matter that many individuals don't want to talk about or deal with, however, the way the subject matter was introduced makes one want to learn more about what happens to the human body once one is deceased.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    N/A


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

    N/A


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

    The personalization of how the novel was written.


    Any additional comments?

    Great author, I look forward to reading as well as listening to other novel that she has written.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ronald MIAMI, FLORIDA, United States 12-19-11
    Ronald MIAMI, FLORIDA, United States 12-19-11 Member Since 2010
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    "Not for the faint of heart or intestinal fortitude"
    What did you love best about Stiff?

    it gave me at least a new perspective on death and what we leave behind. It makes a compelling case for the need of more research cadavers.


    What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

    No holds barred approach to what happens to your body after you leave it.


    What does Shelly Frasier bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Comedy.


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

    Gag and loose my appetite. That is extreme for me.


    Any additional comments?

    Informative but strong to take worth the listen.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ann 12-19-11
    Ann 12-19-11

    Ann

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Really interesting and at times...funny."

    Well worth a read. Very interesting history of cadavers. Sometimes morbidly funny too. Certainly convinces one to choose cremation when the time comes.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kim Dressler Greenview, Ca United States 12-19-11
    Kim Dressler Greenview, Ca United States 12-19-11 Member Since 2009
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    300
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    "Hilarious"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    This is the best book I have read in a long time. I just finished it and it was so funny and interesting that I have no problem re-listening to it again with my husband when we go on a road trip next week. It's that good. Absolutely fascinating with a wonderful sense of humor.


    What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

    The narrator was fantastic and the detailed research of the author was quite impressive.


    What about Shelly Frasier???s performance did you like?

    I loved her delivery.


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

    I am an avid composter in my garden and now have a pretty good idea what's in store for me in the future.


    Any additional comments?

    Please write more books!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lindsey 12-16-11
    Lindsey 12-16-11 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Book got better as it progressed"

    If the whole book had been like the last several chapters, I would have liked it more. I found Roach's narratives of her interviews and personal involvement in her research much more interesting than the lists of facts that take up the earlier chapters.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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