I must admit to a strange attraction to the books of Mary Roach. I write romance and I generally read romance, but every once in a while I get interested in other work. This book–Stiff–is actually about…corpses. Yes, dead bodies.
Not, as one might suspect, referring to the aroused male anatomy.
Roach has a writing style that is informative and very funny. I first read her when my medical school daughter brought home a book called Bonk by Roach. “Bonk” is a term for sexual intercourse and the book is, to say the least, very interesting. I read it cover to cover and learned more than I’d have expected.
Even though the subject matter of Stiff is far, far from the relationships involved in romances, I find Roach’s style to be engaging and funny…even when addressing this very serious subject. I love her footnotes and her aside remarks, which give insight into the journey she’s writing about. She does extensive research on whatever topic she’s addressing, traveling to explore the dark and dusty corners.
While she talks with candor and is very frank, she never mocks or pokes fun at her subject. Roach gives the dead respect. She also respects the deceased’s grieving loved ones, but she talks about a subject that we must admit is our fate. No one gets out of this world alive. We’ve all gotta go sometime and reading this refreshing, informative book helped me clarify how I want my remains treated after my exit.
It’s a good book, well-written and well-researched.