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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 (4965 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Karen Gainesville, FL, United States 12-13-11
    Karen Gainesville, FL, United States 12-13-11 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "quite a good book"

    Well written, very interesting, a lot more goes on that I'd ever imagined. Some history included. Well read/performed. Highly recommend this for anyone with the slightest interest in what happens after death.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ursula 12-12-11
    Ursula 12-12-11
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Definitely a horse of a different colour :-)"

    This was a really well-written & well-researched book. Lots of tongue & cheek humour. Well-presented & enjoyable listen. Somewhat disturbing information, presented in an inoffensive manner. Humans are certainly an interesting set of animals. So will you be leaving your body to science?

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    guizap 12-12-11
    guizap 12-12-11
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    3
    3
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    Performance
    Story
    "my interest in Audible is fast declining"

    Is Putrefaction pronounced putrefication?
    Is Liquefaction pronounced liquification?
    Is Anesthetized pronounced anesthesize?
    Is Calvary pronounced cavalry?
    Is Apothecary pronounced apocathary?
    I'm pretty sure Reuters isn't pronounced rooters.
    Is Assimilated pronounced assimulated?

    It seems if you are going to hire dyslexics as professional readers, you might consider establishing some kind of review process, no?

    And footnotes? These are to be entirely ignored? There are extensive footnotes every few pages, which have been entirely omitted in the Audible version.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Eric Salt Lake City, Utah, United States 12-07-11
    Eric Salt Lake City, Utah, United States 12-07-11 Member Since 2012

    A man. A plan. A canal. Panama

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Thought provoking"

    Roach expertly describes the variety of ways we treat the deceased. Enlightening, interesting, but don't listen while you're eating.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nona GARRETT, IN, United States 11-29-11
    Nona GARRETT, IN, United States 11-29-11
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    2
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    "Excellent"

    This was funny, but yet informative. One of the best audio's I have listened to.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Halena Alexandria, KY, United States 11-18-11
    Halena Alexandria, KY, United States 11-18-11 Member Since 2011

    Artist in Northern Kentucky. Loves listening to books. My likes are history, mystery and some , and mostly writers of the twentieth century

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Very Informative"

    This book has given me an insight in many different areas that I couldn't have gotten elsewhere....Thanks!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tricia Elkridge, MD, United States 11-13-11
    Tricia Elkridge, MD, United States 11-13-11 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Makes for great conversation at cocktail parties!"

    A very interesting read ! Yes, the subject matter is a bit macabre, but the author treats the cadavars with much respect. Quite interesting to learn about all the ways we've used cadavers to better society.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Andrew Kinburn, ON, Canada 11-12-11
    Andrew Kinburn, ON, Canada 11-12-11 Member Since 2015
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    "Stiff but still funny"

    Good read. Humorous and very factual. It's a dry humor, not gut laughing like in her other book: Packing for Mars. Unlike PFM the story is told in a linear fashion with out annoying detours to foot notes. This makes for a great read.

    Recommended to those that like the weird and unusual facts like: crash-test-cadavers where diapers to prevent 'leakage'.

    It's read very well, but the recording has a nasty hiss in the background. It's not overpowering but is distracting.

    None the less I'd recommend this book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Carrie 11-08-11
    Carrie 11-08-11
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    "Amazingly funny and wonderfully read"

    The author Mary Roach is amazing in her entertaining, as well as educational, explanation of the lives of cadavers. The subject matter seems like it would be depressing or gross, but she is able to deliver it with a light touch, while still maintaining the dignity and respect for the human body.

    Shelly Frasier is delightful to listen to. She is clear and easy to understand and does an amazing job with Mary Roach's work.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Grace Fort Collins, CO, United States 11-08-11
    Grace Fort Collins, CO, United States 11-08-11
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    19
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    "Interesting...a must listen"

    This book was so gross, and yet I couldn't stop listening. It was very intriguing, and I loved the dry humor. I'm having a hard time finding another that is as good.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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  • danny
    Heaton Norris, United Kingdom
    12/4/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Really enjoyed"
    What did you like most about Stiff?

    I liked the way the author questioned the reality of the human corpse and how this vessel can serve a new purpose after the should has left it.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    No favorite character but I did like the report on the plastic surgeons and how they perceived these cadavers.


    Which scene did you most enjoy?

    No scene but I found it interesting the disposal of bodies and how aviation has used corpses to improve issues of safety


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

    I think it would be the plastic surgeons and the humanity that they share with the dead person that they are practising upon.


    Any additional comments?

    I really enjoyed the book and the narration, well worth a purchase

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Ian
    Hastings, United Kingdom
    3/13/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "This is so cool!"

    I love learning new things and finding out how things work. This is no exception!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Adrian
    Norwich, United Kingdom
    12/1/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Inclusive, welcoming writing from Mary Roach"

    I bought this based on previously enjoying Packing for Mars (one of my favourite audio books). Unlike Packing for Mars, this book is more of a mixture of history and culture with a light dip in to science and it does not suffer for it.
    The narrator reads beautifully and the words are engaging.
    A highly recommended audio book for anyone who is not too squeemish.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • treilly
    8/3/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Really good read"

    A great book, would highly recommended to anyone with a morbid curiosity like myself. It was informative without being too disgusting or disrespectful, if you weren't instantly put-off by the description you'll probably be fine. In terms of performance it was really well read and easy to follow.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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