Thursday, September 11, 2014

Working Stiff: Been There, Done That

For the first ten years my husband and I were married he was a funeral director and we lived in a home attached to a funeral home.  I seem drawn to books about dead bodies and forensic science because of that, and honestly, find it really quite fascinating.  I had started reading Working Stiff: Two Years, 262 Bodies and the Making of a Medical Examiner, when my husband, looking for a good book to read, took over my kindle and read Working Stiff himself.

Because of his work background I was interested to hear what he thought of this book. His first words were, "been there, done that."  Which is sort of true.  But, Melinek has had a lot more experience with autopsying bodies.  My husband met with families, made arrangements, and embalmed the bodies that he picked up from hospitals, nursing homes, private residences, and occasionally from a medical examiner's office.  He does have a lot of really great stories to tell, and reading this book has reaffirmed my belief that he should write a memoir about his previous life as a funeral director.

Melinek shares vignettes from various bodies she became acquainted with through her work.  Luckily she is not easily grossed out, because many of the bodies she works with are not in good condition.  Although I was intrigued by her various tidbits, (such as the fact that a dog will stay next to his deceased human companion, but a cat will eat the companion), I was most interested in the time she spent working on identifying bodies after 9/11.  

Melinek shares a unique perspective to death and what she has made her life's work.  This is non-fiction that will appeal to a wide audience, and is easy to read. Melinek is someone I felt I could relate to, and her own experience of losing her father to suicide when she was an early teen gives her an understanding of how death affects those left behind.

1 comment:

Ti said...

Funeral director, huh? Interesting! I have always been interested in this stuff. Medically, it's interesting to me but it takes a special personality to deal with all that day in and day out.

There was a gal in my book club who joined only for a short while, but she was the county coroner! She had such good stories.