Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers

“We are biology. We are reminded of this at the beginning and the end, at birth and at death. In between we do what we can to forget.”
― Mary Roach, Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers

Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach is non-fiction work first published in 2003. It details the unique scientific contributions of the deceased.

Yeah. . Umm…This was a really strange book and I really liked it although I wouldn’t recommend reading my review with a cup of coffee…or anything edible.

Opening line of the book: “The way I see it, 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.” is probably what got me into this book. Roach has a very different approach to the topic and she’s very humorous about that approach.

Stiff covers a wide set of topics. Starting from the beginning of dissecting bodies and how body snatching occurred. Before the Anatomy Act of 1832, the only legal supply of corpses for anatomical purposes in the UK were those condemned to death and dissection by the courts. And this was considered fate worse than death because how can you get to heaven if you’re all chopped up? So they had to steal bodies from cemeteries. Renowned doctors would criticize this in public and support it monetarily in private… I’m glad how times have changed and how doctors and surgeons don’t have to go in blind.

“The human head is of the same approximate size and weight as a roaster chicken. I have never before had occasion to make the comparison, for never before today have I seen a head in a roasting pan.”
― Mary Roach, Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers

Then, we move onto how cadavers for used as crash test dummies. You could use normal dummies but then you wouldn’t know which bones are most likely to crush in a car accident. And then all the other interesting topics like: crucifixion experiments, beating heart cadavers, decapitation, cannibalism and alternative ways to burying and cremation…

This is a terribly important book. And I think it’s good to get out of your comfort zone (very much so with this one) and to think differently about some issue. I think for so many years, this was exactly the reason why dissecting humans was not allowed. Because people found it unmoral. But is it worse than letting people die? And they tried to learn by using pigs or primates and obviously unsuccessfully. Even if the dead feet here are quite disgusting…in the end, they’re just feet.

Stiff was very entertaining read. I never would have expected to like this book this much.
4/5 stars

How-To Read Stiff
1.
It’s great nonfiction. But you kind of need to stomach the topic first. Stop thinking of corpses and start thinking about cadavers who have a lot to tell us. Stop thinking about all the reasons why they are now what they are…
2. Then you will start wonder why things like dead bodies are funny. Or maybe it’s Roach’s storytelling. Either way, it’s ok. It happens.
3. I liked the audio version. Maybe reading all the “cadaver” words wasn’t as gross as hearing them?

“Death. It doesn’t have to be boring.”
― Mary Roach, Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers

Featured image: In the morgue by Allsha Vargas (link)

20 Quirks & Strange Habits. The Weird Side of Famous Writers

Infographic by Jack Milgram
wCW blog & post url                    t@Jack__Milgram           fJack.Milgram

Thank you for sharing Jack! I think this is very helpful graphic for all aspiring authors! :)
What do you think was the strangest habit? I think it would definitely help me with my writing  if I locked myself in a room with a bottle of ink :D

/Anastasia

 

The Boy Who Would Not Grow Up

“Dreams do come true, if only we wish hard enough. You can have anything in life if you will sacrifice everything else for it.”
― J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

Peter Pan; or, the Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up or Peter and Wendy is J. M. Barrie’s most famous work, in the form of a 1904 play and a 1911 novel. It tells the story of Peter Pan, a mischievous little boy who can fly, and has many adventures on the island of Neverland that is inhabited by mermaids, fairies, Native Americans, and pirates.

“Second star to the right and straight on ’til morning. ”
― J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

I think Peter Pan was something that I first learned about through Disney’s film adaptation many years ago. I think no matter in what format you first learned about this story, it will always be a story of making the impossible possible by believing. And that one must believe in fairies.

“When the first baby laughed for the first time, its laugh broke into a thousand pieces, and they all went skipping about, and that was the beginning of fairies.”
― J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

There are many magical things about Peter Pan’s story. The story is wonderful. Something magical happens and three ordinary kids are taken to a magical land. The Neverland and to find it you must find the second star to the right and straight on ’til morning. And there they encounter many different kinds of adventures.

“Stars are beautiful, but they may not take part in anything, they must just look on forever.”
― J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

Characters are one of a kind, I think. There’s the one and only boy who would not grow up, Peter Pan, a young boy dressed in leaves and the only one able to fly without the help of Tinker Bell’s golden fairy dust. And Tinker Bell. I understand very well why she became the messenger of Disney’s magic. She’s no fancy fairy, she mends pots and kettles and even though she’s usually helpful and kind to Peter, from time to time she’s also ill-behaved and vindictive.

“Tink was not all bad: or, rather, she was all bad just now, but, on the other hand, sometimes she was all good. Fairies have to be one thing or the other, because being so small they unfortunately have room for one feeling only at a time. They are, however, allowed to change, only it must be a complete change.”
― J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

Then there’s The Darling Family and the children: John, Michael & Wendy Darling. The lattest one is the eldest one of the children who likes the idea of homemaking and wants to be a mother which she sort of also becomes for the Lost Boys. I never liked Wendy’s character for some reason. & The Lost Boys, sad but fascinating idea about how they turned up in Neverland. And then also one of my all-time favorite villains: Captain James Hook. Who wants to kill Peter Pan. Not so much because Peter cut off his right hand but because Peter drives him to madness. Oh and the ticking crocodile.

“The moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease forever to be able to do it.”
― J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

I really adore Peter Pan, however, I can’t quite bring myself to give it 5 stars review as there were a couple of things that I did not like: Wendy was really annoying and the last chapter of the story was also rather annoying. I think perhaps the book would have been better without it. And then the background of this story is a sad one.

“To live will be an awfully big adventure.”
― J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

4/5 stars

How-To Read Peter Pan
1.
A dear child has many names. This novel goes by different titles such as: Peter Pan or Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up or Peter and Wendy. If you’re looking for one with illustrations you might want to look for Peter & Wendy.
2.
There are two prequels to Peter Pan’s story called: Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens: “Before he flew away to Neverland, the little boy who wouldn’t grow up dwelt in the heart of London, with birds and fairies as his companions.” and  The Little White Bird where only few chapters are about Peter Pan and the rest focus on Barrie’s ponderings. I think only Peter Pan’s story matters but if you’re a fan, I warmly recommend the first part too.
3.
You can read and download Peter Pan and all the other works by J.M. Barrie for free at Project Gutenberg: https://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/16
4.
Don’t get me started about Disney’s adaptation. I love it. And it’s nice to read the story after you’ve seen the film. The novel is a bit darker.
5. Clap your hands and say, ‘I believe in fairies!’

“Never say goodbye because goodbye means going away and going away means forgetting.”
― J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

Thoughts? Did you first read Peter Pan or see the Disney adaptation of it?

Legends in Exile

“The only easy day was yesterday.”
― Bill Willingham, Fables, Vol. 1: Legends in Exile

Legends in Exile (2001) by  Bill Willingham is the first part of FABLES. In Fables series, Willingham has created a  new world for beloved fables, fairytale characters like Snow White, Bigby Wolf,  Bluebeard, Rose Red, Jack the Giant Killer, Prince Charming… These characters have had to flee their homes because it’s been taken over by an enemy called The Adversary and they now have to live in the same world as we do. Shortly about the plot, our fables live as normal citizens in modern-day New York where they have created their own secret society of sorts but one day everything changes when Snow White’s sister Rose Red is apparently murdered and Fabletown’s sheriff ( who is no other than Bigby Wolf) to find out who the culprit is.

“Isn’t there a statute of limitation on playing the poor abused victim?”
― Bill Willingham, Fables, Vol. 1: Legends in Exile

I’ve been reading a lot of comics this year because I have had troubles with jobs so comics have been something I have had enough time for. I really loved the first part of FABLES series Legends in Exile and I’m  looking forward to reading the second part of this series: Animal Farm. I think art was just gorgeous in Legends in Exile, I spent many minutes just looking at one illustration. The story is interesting and characters are just magnificent.

“I’m about to start reading it again, because what good is a story you only want to read once?”
― Bill Willingham

5/5 stars

Tips
1.
If you’re a fan of Sandman, you must read this!
2.
I think fans of Once Upon a Time tv series would enjoy reading this. Also, I think you’ll love this if you like reading fairytale retellings.
3. I believe FABLES has over twenty volumes so you won’t immediately run out of stories to read.

Have you read this? What’s your favorite graphic novel?

//Anastasia

 

How-To Catch a Falling Star

“A philosopher once asked, “Are we human because we gaze at the stars, or do we gaze at them because we are human?” Pointless, really…”Do the stars gaze back?” Now, that’s a question.”
― Neil Gaiman, Stardust

Stardust is a novel by British writer Neil Gaiman, published with illustrations by Charles Vess in 1999. It tells a story Tristran Thorn who promises to bring back a fallen star for his beloved and crosses the wall that divides his English country town from a dangerous world of lords and witches, all of them in search of the star. And Tristran soon discovers that stars are not how he imagined them to be.

“He stared up at the stars: and it seemed to him then that they were dancers, stately and graceful, performing a dance almost infinite in its complexity. He imagined he could see the very faces of the stars; pale, they were, and smiling gently, as if they had spent so much time above the world, watching the scrambling and the joy and the pain of the people below them, that they could not help being amused every time another little human believed itself the center of its world, as each of us does.”
― Neil Gaiman, Stardust

Stardust was I think the second book I read by Neil Gaiman, first one being Neverwhere. I adore his writing and have to agree with Stephen King when he said that “Gaiman is a treasure-house of story and we are lucky to have him”. Stardust is a beautiful fairytale targeted more to adult readers, and it’s a wonderful thing that someone writes fairytales for adults.

“It’s not hard to own something. Or everything. You just have to know that it’s yours, and then be willing to let it go.”
― Neil Gaiman, Stardust

“Are we human because we gaze at the stars, or do we gaze at the stars because we are human?”
― Neil Gaiman, Stardust

I’d rate this book 4/5 stars. I’d give more but the problem here lies in me loving  Neverwhere and  American Gods even more.

Tips
1.
You´ll adore Stardust if you love fantasy and if you like books like The Princess Bride or works of Lord Dunsany.
2. It’s a quick read because it’s a short read, under 250 pages and because Gaiman writes so brilliantly.
3.
If you love reading fairytales, here’s one you should read.
4.
You can read an excerpt of Stardust here.
5.
There is a  good film adaptation of the book from 2007.

Have you read Neil Gaiman’s books? Have you read this?

“You have to believe. Otherwise, it will never happen.”
― Neil Gaiman, Stardust