Sunday, December 30, 2007

Do not go gentle into that good night, unless you donate your body to science

One of my brothers-in-law gave me Mary Roach's splendid
Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers, which I finished reading tonight. Cadavers are used in valuable medical, automotive, and criminal justice research, and organ donors ("beating-heart cadavers") actually save lives. Roach interviewed some of the folks who do this research; indeed, she watched some of it underway. She also discusses some of the unsavory history of cadaver research, and takes a detour through the grotesque topic of medicinal cannibalism. This could have been a dry, technical book, but Mary Roach has a wonderful sense for humor, which shows through on almost every page. On a few occasions, she appears over-eager to see certain events first-hand, grossing out even the professionals in cadaver research. Still, she is respectful of the human beings whose cadavers are being researched and of most of the people whose work she observed first-hand. This is a book that's well worth reading, though you might not want to be seen reading it in a restaurant, as I was earlier today.


Ann said...

My friend Peggy Rogers told me about this book some time ago. I've told my children I would very much like to be donated to a cadaver farm. I guess there's one in Texas and another in Tennessee (those are the ones nearby). I kind of like the idea of my body just being left out, with a cage around it.

What do you want done with your body when you die?

Randy said...

The author visited the cadaver farm in Tennessee. They study rates of decay in various scenarios, mostly involving the methods murderers would use to dispose of bodies. So they have bodies in car trunks, in shallow graves, in shallow water, etc. A few are just lying out on the hillside. The farm is right next to a U. of Tenn. parking lot, and the author assures the reader that it's very easy to find a spot there on a hot summer day.

I've told DW I'd like a Tibetan funeral when I die. They leave your corpse out on the rocks for vultures to tear apart and eat. DW won't do that, of course.

Casdok said...

Sounds like an interesting read!!
Happy new year to you and your family! Cas and C x

beatdad said...

A fascinating read. I will buy it for my wife. Have you heard of the Body Works exhibit?

Sweet and Salty said...

Hey, I wouldn't mind reading that. thanks for the review!