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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 (5286 )
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  •  
    Cynthia 01-05-12
    Cynthia 01-05-12 Member Since 2015
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    "A great book...for certain listeners!"

    This book is not for everyone. But...if you enjoy the macabre, the bizarre, and you have a strong stomach, this audiobook is a great listen. Truly hilarious in places. But not for the squeamish. Excellent delivery too.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Avid Amazon Shopper 01-03-12

    Susan

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    "Too Disturbing...But Not Why You Think"

    I could handle the details of decomposition in humans and even the detailed descriptions of the embalming process. But I turned off the book and deleted it from my Audible Manager after the lengthy and repeated detailed descriptions of cruel decapitations and other horrible tests done to animals. It's one thing to hear about the way a cadaver (who when alive willed their body to science) is used to test the effects of a car crash, but way too upsetting to hear about innocent animals being decapitated and having other animals heads sewn on and kept alive to see how their brains worked. Way too disturbing. Wish I had not downloaded this one and wish I could press a button and erase it from my memory. Where are the "men in black" when you need them? Wish there was a way to click and read all the 1 star reviews before buying a book...the way you can on Amazon. Maybe there is and I'm just missing it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Christina Lubbock, Tx, United States 01-02-12
    Christina Lubbock, Tx, United States 01-02-12 Member Since 2010
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    "May be too morbid for some"
    What did you love best about Stiff?

    May be morbid for some, I chose this book because I am a physical therapist and benefitted during my school from use of a cadaver and have a clinical interest in the human body. I enjoyed learning some of the processes of human decomp and some of the types of injuries received in the variety of accidents. Could have totally skipped the section on how people used various cadaver parts, excrement, etc., for various cures and rituals. Overall, it was ok, narrator did a good job, but this book may not be for you if you are squeamish.


    Would you be willing to try another book from Mary Roach? Why or why not?

    Yes


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

    Her voice brings an intimate feel to the story.


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

    I enjoyed some interesting facts I learned: like your skin sloughs off your hands first after your dead, or that one of the main reasons you die in a high velocity impact is that your aorta tears because it is somewhat fixed and your heart is swinging freely, or that they can figure out where you were in a plane crash depending on how much clothes your body was found wearing.


    Any additional comments?

    Not a book for everyone.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Julia Rocky River, OH, United States 01-02-12
    Julia Rocky River, OH, United States 01-02-12 Member Since 2016
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    "Very entertaining and educational"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Stiff to be better than the print version?

    haven't read the print version


    What other book might you compare Stiff to and why?

    similar to other Roach works, so if you like her straightforward take on learning about unusual things, this is a good book for you.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    So many good descriptions of her encounters with the gross...


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

    No, I needed a break from the subject matter--dead bodies--occasionally.


    Any additional comments?

    Good book, good reader!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    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
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    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
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    kelda 12-26-11
    kelda 12-26-11 Member Since 2017
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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

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