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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 (4925 )
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Performance
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  •  
    guizap 12-12-11
    guizap 12-12-11
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    3
    3
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    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

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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
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    Nona GARRETT, IN, United States 11-29-11
    Nona GARRETT, IN, United States 11-29-11
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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

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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
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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
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    Grace Fort Collins, CO, United States 11-08-11
    Grace Fort Collins, CO, United States 11-08-11
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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
  •  
    Anthony Shingle Springs Dr., CA, United States 11-04-11
    Anthony Shingle Springs Dr., CA, United States 11-04-11 Member Since 2015
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    "Decent book, different topic"

    Good for a quick listen. Some interesting facts that I was unaware of. Overall gave it a 3.5.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mrs 11-04-11
    Mrs 11-04-11

    New Mum

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    "Beautifully written & excellently read."

    Roach manages a very sensitive topic with so much care and ease. It is beautifully written and excellently read. The content is interesting, educational and thought-provoking. Very good.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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