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Download Body of Work: Meditations on Mortality from the Human Anatomy Lab Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample Body of Work: Meditations on Mortality from the Human Anatomy Lab, by Christine Montross Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (761 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Christine Montross Narrator: Renée Raudman Publisher: Tantor Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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This is a hauntingly moving memoir of the relationship between a cadaver named Eve and the first-year medical student who cuts her open.

Christine Montross was a nervous first-year medical student, standing outside the anatomy lab on her first day of class, preparing herself for what was to come. Entering a room with stainless-steel tables topped by corpses in body bags is shocking no matter how long you’ve prepared yourself, but a strange thing happened when Montross met her cadaver. Instead of being disgusted by her, she was utterly intrigued—intrigued by the person the woman once was, humbled by the sacrifice she had made in donating her body to science, and fascinated by the strange, unsettling beauty of the human form. They called her Eve. This is the story of Montross and Eve—the student and the subject—and the surprising relationship that grew between them.

Body of Work is a mesmerizing, rarely seen glimpse into the day-to-day life of a medical student—yet one that follows naturally in the footsteps of recent highly successful literary renderings of the mysteries of medicine, such as Atul Gawande’s Complications: A Surgeon’s Notes on an Imperfect Science. Christine Montross was a poet long before she became a doctor, and she brings an uncommon perspective to the emotional difficulty of the first year of medical school—the dispiriting task of remaining clinical and detached while in the anatomy lab, and the struggle with the line you’ve crossed by violating another’s body once you leave it.

Montross was so affected by her experience with Eve that she undertook to learn more about the history of cadavers and the study of anatomy. She visited an autopsy lab in Ireland and the University of Padua in Italy where Vesalius, a forefather of anatomy, once studied. She learned about body snatchers and grave robbers and anatomists who practiced their work on live criminals. Her disturbing, often entertaining anecdotes enrich this exquisitely crafted memoir, endowing an eerie beauty to the world of a doctor-in-training. Body of Work is an unforgettable examination of the mysteries of the human body and a remarkable look at our relationship with both the living and the dead.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “[Montross’] thoughtful meditations on balancing clinical detachment and emotional engagement will easily find a spot on the shortlist of great med school literature.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • “How lucky we are that a poet decided to become a physician. Although all physicians share a personal history of countless hours in the human anatomy lab, only a rare few, I suspect, would be able to so deftly illuminate this transforming and peculiar experience. Montross is a master of detail, so much so that I was shocked to find myself hovering over my own cadaver in medical school again, holding a scalpel as if for the first time.”

    Katrina Firlik, MD, Neurosurgeon and author of Another Day in the Frontal Lobe

  • “The physician, like the sculptor, approaches the human body with reverence and admiration. Carried a little further, it becomes worship. In Body of Work, an unflinching memoirist conveys the process, both emotional and intellectual, by which human anatomy is mastered by the doctor-to-be. It should be read by anyone with aspirations for a life in medicine.”

    Richard Selzer, author of Mortal Lessons

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Amy | 2/18/2014

    " A beautiful account of what a med student experiences in the anatomy lab. Given that I work at a medical school, I found it especially interesting. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by andra | 1/30/2014

    " I read this as research for something I'm writing, but it is amazing and beautiful and striking. It also has some wonderfully gruesome history in it. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 by Dana | 1/22/2014

    " i originally gave this book four stars because i know i liked it, however i then thought about it and realized that i finished it less than a month ago and i already cannot summon it. so i thought if i can't remember it, how much could i have really liked it? "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 by Darin | 1/12/2014

    " It's certainly an interesting concept for a book--observe the process of first-year anatomy lab at a medical school and watch the fur fly. There are a lot of good details here from Montross on both what the process means in historical terms as well as how it affects those who do it. However, Montross' prose when it comes to her self-observation is too simplistic to carry this book much beyond average. She writes in the tone of an emotional fourteen year-old on an online journal complaining about how someone has wronged her--the descriptions are too emotionally-loaded, too extravagant, too...much to do anything other than get in the way. But if you move quickly through these parts, there's a lot of good to see here as well. Mildly recommended. "

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About the Author

Dr. Christine Montross is a resident in psychiatry at Brown University. She received her masters of fine arts in poetry from the University of Michigan and has had several poems published in literary journals. While compiling Body of Work, she traveled to anatomical theaters; sought out holy relics; and dissected three arms, a leg, and an entire human body.