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Thursday, August 15, 2019

Review: Stiff

Stiff is Mary Roach's book about what happens to Human Cadavers. If you've read her other books, you'll discover that this one is much like the others: lots of pithy quotations, such as this discussion about the most ecologically pure thing to do with a body:
I used to think the traditional navy burial at sea sounded nice; I pictured the sun on the ocean, the infinite expanse of blue, the nowhereness of it. Then one day I had a conversation with Phillip Backman, during which he mentioned that one of the cleanest, quickest, and most ecologically pure things to do with a body would be to put it in a big tide-pool full of Dungeness crabs, which apparently enjoy eating people as much as people enjoy eating crabs. “It’ll do the thing in a couple of days,” he said. “It’s all recycled, and it’s all clean and taken care of.” My affinity for burial at sea—not to mention crabmeat—was suddenly, dramatically diminished. (Kindle Loc 3292)
That's not to say that the book doesn't cover lots of different topics. Cadavers get used everywhere from crash testing to firearm effectiveness to improving footwear for bomb clearing squads. Many of these applications sound interesting, but as you can imagine,  it takes all her skill as a writer to make a giant ass book about them, because most of the applications are obvious. By the time I was done with the book I was quite bored.

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