Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Stiff The Curious Life of Human Cadavers Written by Mary Roach

Allo fellow book nerds, my what a treat we are in for on this review…with this latest book I read I was transported to a world of super heroes, magic, science, horror, philosophy, world travel, time travel, and all out yucky yet fascinating writing. Stiff, written by Mary Roach had me completely spell bound with the first sentence she writes… “Being dead is not terribly far off from being on a cruise ship. Most of your time is spent lying on your back. The brain has shut down. The flesh begins to soften. Nothing much new happens, and nothing is expected of you.” Yes, right there I was thinking to myself, OH THIS IS GOING TO BE GOOD! The book itself is broken up as all books are into chapters, but oh to call them mere chapters would be an insult. The book has a very quirky yet respectful air about it which is great because a lot of the topics in this book and practices of old were not respectful at all it seems. Chapter one is about practicing Surgery on the Dead which wowza the things I learned! Ya know I think I’d rather someone who willed their body away to be practiced on for new scientific techniques is way preferable than a living person being the first test subject… I so want to call my friend up whose studying to be a surgeon and ask her if she’s ever done any of these procedures or heard of them…so curious! Chapter 2 deals with Body snatching and other sordid tales from the dawn of human dissection…which is something I’ve learned about before in classic horror stories and camp tales, but the depth in which Roach goes and how people behaved not even that long ago towards their dead brethren was just eek! Chapter 3 is about Life after Death on human decay and what can be done about it… trust me if you are squeamish just make sure you don’t eat while reading this book… I thankfully watched a show called Bones quite a few times so a lot of this I’ve seen on television so I’m not so squeamish, but Lasagna I still cannot eat that while such squeamish things are being described…ugh. Chapter 4 deals with a slightly different way of looking at death to see human cadavers as super heroes people who go through crashes, fires, accidents, under the knife, without sleep, without food, and willingly now that’s a hero eh? This chapter deals with Human crash test dummies and the ghastly, necessary science of impact tolerance…yeah I didn’t know they would still use real bodies, but it makes sense the science behind why and how they do this was really something readers… Chapter five deals with something that I’ve always wondered about Plane Crashes.. when the bodes o f the passengers must tell the story of a crash, I know not a lot of them happen in the world relative to Car crashes, but how do they know what went wrong? I have a gf whose bf works on engineering or rather fixing planes…I’m so dying to ask him if he’s ever heard of had to learn about this..how to broach that subject, but still so interesting… Then we have the Sticky ethics of bullets and bombs in chapter 6 with Cadavers who join the Army…yeah title of the chapter says quite a bit and it is amazing how people are okay with injecting their cheeks with dead person cells or skin but not putting a bullet in a willing cadaver…just odd if you ask me. Chapter 7 was a tad short it felt like it could have been a book all on its own, actually all of these chapters did, but this chapter was on the Crucifixion experiments, ladies and gentlemen I am oh so happy I live in the days of semi modern medicine because it seems like Doctors just loved to just chop off anything if they needed an answer.. yeah no thanks. Chapter 8 is something that most people have fears of...How to know if you’re dead..the beating heart cadavers, live burial, and the scientific search for the soul. Just wow again I cannot stress enough with how happy I am that I live today, the world may be ending but readers it so wasn’t as rosy as earlier generations would have us believe the way they “cured” or took care of you…again NO THANKS! Chapter 9 deals with Decapitation, reanimation, and the human head transplant, Oh my Stars…readers I almost fainted upon reading what was done to animals of ye olden times…seriously no thanks I like my head on my body, sure my body sometimes I want to just make it a size 6 and never give me any issues, but it’s mine and I’ll keep it that way….the whole body switching possibilities always scared the hell out of me, heck look what happened in Doll House by Joss Whedon, that didn’t exactly go well now did it? Granted it was cleaner than sawing ones head off and attaching it to another body…yeck. Chapter 10 yeah… Eat me.. Medical cannibalism and the case of the human dumplings. No, no, no…I do not want to think about Soil and Green being people, saw that movie as a child and could never get over it, sure we could eat people, but there’s just something not right about it, at least in my eyes…ugh eyes… I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to eat honey without this book in mind…maybe if I watch a lot of Whinnie the Pooh. Just the sheer craziness of cures people think are out there or were out there readers… in ancient China by the way being a dutiful daughter in law had some serious drawbacks it seems. It seems the Chinese have beaten us when it comes to the lack of squeamish factor hands down no poker face needed. Finally in chapter 11 the author begins to bring us out of the horrors of the last few chapters. The book really brought me in readers but those last few chapters with Quack doctors, crazy cures… (Fecal matter is not meant to be eaten or cure you!)(And dead blood shouldn’t be used in transfusions it just ew!), human cannibalism, really crazy experiments…just ugh. So Out of the Fire, into the Compost Bin and other new ways to end up… I actually am considering this readers, my husband a few years ago looked into what we would want to happen to us when we die and definitely not burial or embalming nope, had a friend who was going to be a mortician and that’s so not how I want to be, ew. Granted, it’s how a lot of people like to be but I’d rather be flash frozen, dried out, and used as food for a tree… it’s quicker, less pollutant, and just seems the less messy for my choosing, Sweden is really impressive readers and this chapter definitely proves something I already knew. The final chapter my dear readers are what the author plans to do, and it is so wonderful how she writes this, I have to admit I’m quickly falling in love with her writing it’s so open and honest I can definitely hear how she speaks her cadence is so clear in her writing and the respect plus humor is really appreciated too. On page 275 the author makes what I think is a very valid point “ When you get right down to it, there is no dignified way to go, be it decomposition, incerneration, dissection, tissue digestion, or composting. They’re all, bottom line, a little disagreeable.” Yup, death is disagreeable, but after reading this book it’s good to know that yeah there is something to all that life after death talk if you want you can actually have a life after death or not depends on you and what you and your family want (they after all have to carry out your wishes) there’s so much history, stories, horrors, science, and good humor in this book readers. I absolutely loved it from cover to the final page. So, I think I might have to pick up another book by this author because the topic which I usually find kinda gross was just so well written about I find myself wanting to know more! And, to read more by Mary Roach. A wonderful read indeed! I don’t think I need to tell you readers, not for the squeamish person this book.

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