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Down Among The Dead Men: A Year In The Life Of A Mortuary Technician (2010)

by Michelle Williams(Favorite Author)
3.35 of 5 Votes: 1
1593762984 (ISBN13: 9781593762988)
Soft Skull Press
review 1: This is an intriguing, entertaining and honest account of life as a mortuary technician written during Williams' first year in the job following a change in career and a good bit of luck. She is open and honest throughout the book and through her stories and those of her colleagues shows the work she and other technicians like her in a clear light, not shying away from anything (including the joys of the decomposing dead). The writing isn't spectacular but as Williams is not a natural writer this is expected and she does write as herself without trying to be something she's not, which is a pleasant change from some biographies out there. Overall this is a really interesting read that gives a warts and all look into mortuary life and the characters that come through thei... morer doors.
review 2: I confess, when I saw this book on the shelf, I was morbidly fascinated. I had loved "Stiff" by Mary Roach, which is a well-written, well-researched and oddly compelling exploration of the what happens to our bodies postmortem. I thought this book might be another such interesting account of how bodies are examined to determine cause of death, and how they are prepared for burial. It's not. The author, Michelle Williams, bored with her work in social services, applies on a lark for a position as a mortuary technician and, much to her surprise, is chosen to work in a hospital mortuary. She promises to give us a vivid account of the life of a mortuary technician, but instead pads the book with the insipid details of her every-day life, including making and drinking coffee with her co-workers, walking her dogs, visiting her parents, taking holidays with her boyfriend, lunching with friends and getting smashed at the local pub. These exploits warrant publication? In discussing her co-workers and colleagues, she is nauseatingly obsequious and toady. Other than a few accounts of her handling obese, decomposed and dismembered bodies, the book lacks much that is extraordinary. I learned that a mortuary technician is simply the person who processes bodies in and out of a mortuary; kind of like the counter-clerk who checks books in and out of a library. The really interesting work is done by coroners and medical examiners. Overall, the book is little more than a polished version of what I assume is Williams' daily diary for the year. She could have had a winner if she'd put a little more effort into this, and done some research. Pass on this book. It's not worth your time. less
Reviews (see all)
Very interesting topic. I do wish that the author had not spent so much time on her personal life.
funny and a small bit of sadness, worth reading for a broader view of death and peace
Very honest, funny but sensitive description of life as a mortuary technician.
Really interesting, but a bit superficial.
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