Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers
By Mary Roach
W.W. Norton & Company, 2003, 320 pgs. Nonfiction
Stiff is a strange and fascinating book about the decomposition and preservation of the human body and the myriad uses of human cadavers over the centuries. From plastic surgery, anatomy labs, crash test dummies, forensic studies, religious studies, and ecological disposals, cadavers have been available for research of all kinds. With much-needed comic relief and a fearless curiosity, Mary Roach asks the questions you can’t as she highlights the many contributions of the human cadaver to society.
The opening chapter on severed heads and plastic surgeon residents had me equally disgusted and captivated. Not every subject is as gross but each comes with a surprise guarantee. If you didn’t know what you wanted to happen to your body postmortem or thought you did, you will, or will at least know where to start, after reading this book.
I listened to the audiobook and the narrator juggled the morbid and humorous passages with aplomb.