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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 (5571 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Stephen M 03-05-12
    Stephen M 03-05-12 Member Since 2016
    HELPFUL VOTES
    8
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    "Making dead people interesting again!"

    What can I say? I LOVE Mary Roach!! Ever since I read her columns in Readers Digest, I've been hooked on her! Just when you think you are going to lose it over some gory detail, in comes the wit. I lost count of the outburts of laughter. Good thing I was in the car. I had no interest in the topic of dead bodies, but since it was Mary, I gave it a shot. I learned more than I ever expected to and had fun along the way!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Eyrene Portland, OR, United States 02-29-12
    Eyrene Portland, OR, United States 02-29-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Fascinating"
    Where does Stiff rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    A very interesting book. Not top of the pile, but definitely a good one.


    What did you like best about this story?

    It seems an odd subject to research, so it's quite a fascinating one.


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

    No, I could pause it for other things, but I did enjoy coming back to it.


    Any additional comments?

    As expected, it's not the most pleasant of topics at times, but it was undoubtedly interesting, even with the potential queasy factor.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kayla United States 02-22-12
    Kayla United States 02-22-12 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "An interesting read, can get a bit dry at moments"
    Where does Stiff rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    It was an interesting read, but not one of my favorites. It dragged on at times and I had to keep urging myself to keep listening


    What did you like best about this story?

    I loved the early, sordid history of cadavers, that was why I originally got the book, for research into the history of human dissection for a class.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    M. Walker 02-20-12
    M. Walker 02-20-12 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
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    "Strange but entertaining"
    If you could sum up Stiff in three words, what would they be?

    Strange but entertaining


    What did you like best about this story?

    Great reader; weird facts


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

    Wonderful inflections....added to the humor which is needed with the subject!


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

    No


    Any additional comments?

    Not for the squeamish

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joan Greenville, NC, United States 02-20-12
    Joan Greenville, NC, United States 02-20-12
    ratings
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    33
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    Story
    "Very interesting and worthwhile to listen"
    What did you love best about Stiff?

    Topic was something you want to know more about but dont know if you want to listen to the answers - Roach gives the answers in a manner that is not only interesting but in some cases funny!


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    M. I. Wolfson Cape Town 02-17-12
    M. I. Wolfson Cape Town 02-17-12 Member Since 2016
    HELPFUL VOTES
    57
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    118
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    "bizzare"
    What would have made Stiff better?

    Not to have bothered writing it


    What was most disappointing about Mary Roach’s story?

    Not a story at all


    Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Shelly Frasier?

    don't know


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    perhaps to a nercophiliac


    Any additional comments?

    Gruesome, of interest to philovampires only. A waste of time and money

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Charles Maysville, KY, United States 02-16-12
    Charles Maysville, KY, United States 02-16-12 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
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    4
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    "Gross subject, humorous presentation"
    If you could sum up Stiff in three words, what would they be?

    Informative, funny, gross


    What did you like best about this story?

    The diversity of the subject matter and the balance given to the aspects.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    The interview, through an interprater, of a Chinese crematorium manager.


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

    No, it is easily broken up.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Beverly Benton Harbor, MI, United States 02-07-12
    Beverly Benton Harbor, MI, United States 02-07-12

    bethany dawn

    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Stiff is not for me"
    Would you try another book from Mary Roach and/or Shelly Frasier?

    probably not, so turned off by the irreverent tone of this one


    What do you think your next listen will be?

    dont know


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

    irreverence


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    totally turned off


    Any additional comments?

    was looking for new information on a topic that is not discussed that much and disappointed to find the tone so irreverant.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sue United States 02-07-12
    Sue United States 02-07-12 Member Since 2015
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    43
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    "The narrator is fantastic! A very interesting boo"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Stiff to be better than the print version?

    This book, obviously, covers a gruesome topic, but it is written with a dry, witty tone that actually adds humor to what isn't a humorous topic. The narrator is excellent, and, if you can get past the grossness of the subject matter, the information is fascinating.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Holly 02-03-12
    Holly 02-03-12 Member Since 2012

    Avid reader/listener. I work in/study Design Research at post-graduate level. I crochet, I'm a production potter, and I cook allergen free

    ratings
    REVIEWS
    51
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    Story
    "Bad Audio..."
    Would you consider the audio edition of Stiff to be better than the print version?

    No, and I say this mainly because the quality of the recording is SO poor it makes it difficult to listen to. The background static and crackly quality make the high end white noise click in and out with the voice and it actually hurts your ears to listen to it in some places.


    Would you be willing to try another one of Shelly Frasier’s performances?

    Her voice is actually quite nice once you get past the horrible recording, so yes. I say this with the caveat that I would listen to a sample to ensure the recording itself was better than this one.


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

    Diego Rivera's (the artist) cannibalism.


    Any additional comments?

    Perhaps a better vetting of the recordings' qualities?

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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