Stiff by March Roach

This is not an ordinary novel. How many books do you see everyday that can tell you everything from how someone tried to weigh a soul, to how a person invented a tongue-pulling machine to check if someone was truly dead? From morbid to marvellous (these examples are more on the marvellous end of the spectrum) never before has a subject like death that has been dealt with such sincerity in today’s society, been written about such good humour and hilarity, as well as being interspersed with thought-provoking facts.


I am not one, as you may have ascertained by now, to commonly read non-fiction, yet this was fantastic. Why There was a perfect pace to the novel, with Roach never lingering on a topic too long to ensue boredom, yet no stone in the history of cadavers had been left unturned. There was such in a variety in topics covered, and none of them, although occasionally gruesome and gross, were so worn down with such an endless amount of facts that I felt bored. Unusually, reading this novel left me feeling oddly at peace, and reassured. I say unusually because despite then fact that I love reading, I never thought that reading a novel about cadavers would make me feel at ease. However I don’t think I owe this to the subject matter, but to Roach’s remarkable narrative on the novel. I guess that many people uncomfortable talking, or reading about death, and when they do, there is normally such a heavy sadness surrounding a death that there isn’t much room for questions. But Roach takes the merry approach, and shows us that, despite popular belief, life on Earth is far from over just because you are dead, and so with unmatched cheerfulness.

I absolutely loved this novel; it was clear that there was a painstakingly large amount of research that has gone into it, and in doing so every page holds a new fact about the subject. Also, and I cannot stress this enough, there is so much hilarity in this book, that I cannot help but smile. It is worth mentioning that I picked up this novel completely by accident. I was in fact looking for a book called Gulp, but the librarian was having issues locating the book, and offered me Stiff as an alternative. This wasn’t really the novel I had in mind for myself, but I duly took up the librarian’s offer. And I am glad! I never would have ever considered Stiff as an novel I would enjoy, as it is very different from what I normally read, but I loved it! I read this book as well to complete the ‘Read a non-fiction book’ box for my reading challenge!

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