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A Second Time, Mary Roach Comes Back from the Dead

Mary Roach

Me: What's the strangest question you've been asked at a reading?

Mary Roach: At a reading for Stiff, a woman came up to me ??? and she looked like a fairly ordinary person, a college senior, maybe ??? and she said, "If a guy dies and he's lying around for two or three days, would he still be hot?" I said, "No, the body would cool down to room temperature pretty quickly."

I started going on about how many degrees the body loses. She said, "No, no, no. I mean, if he was hot, would he still be hot?"

There were people in line behind her, kind of looking horrified. It didn't seem to me that anyone had put her up to this or that she was making a joke. She seemed to have a real curiosity.


Stiff introduced a flourishing cadaver industry and a science writer with a wicked sense of humor, besides.

In Spook Mary Roach asks, What happens to the part of us that isn't so easily identified? What does science have to say about spirit energy? Read the interview.

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Mary Roach is the author of Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers and Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife. Her writing has appeared in such publications as Salon, GQ, Vogue, and The New York Times Magazine. She lives in Oakland, California.

Books mentioned in this post

Mary Roach is the author of Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex

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