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Down Among the Dead Men: A Year in the Life of a Mortuary Technician Paperback – August 17, 2010
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"Brave Enough" by Cheryl Strayed
From the best-selling author of Wild, a collection of quotes--drawn from the wide range of her writings--that capture her wisdom, courage, and outspoken humor, presented in a gift-sized package that's as irresistible to give as it is to receive. Learn more | See related books
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More About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
Does this sound like a job you would like? Could this be a job you aspire to? Read this book and find out!
After ten years of working for the national health service with disabled people, curiosity and the need for change lead her to apply for this job. Williams tells her tale in a straightforward, non-sensational narrative that "brings to life" what a mortuary technician does with the dead.
In reading this book, you'll learn some technical terminology. You will also learn new definitions for such common words as "crab" and "pluck."
After being accepted, her first few months in the hospital mortuary are something like an apprenticeship as she works with two much older and experienced male technicians who mentor her. Within a suprisingly short period of time, they come to accept her as a full-fledged member of the team, an occasion celebrated by a first-time pub crawl involving just the three of them. At this juncture, Williams realizes she has crossed the Rubicon. Her sense of duty and responsibility kick into high gear.
Teamwork proves to be very important in the business of doing post-mortems. Working effectively with hospital staff, funeral home directors, coroners, law enforcement officers and most important, the families of the deceased is essential, since smooth operations in the mortuary depend upon all of these parties.
Perhaps the personal climax of Williams' narrative is her quest to become certified near the end of her first year. As an over-30, she has gone without having to take tests for more than a decade. She has built up a high degree of test phobia.Read more ›
This book is hard to put down at times, but sometimes can be a little dreadful since the author rambles on about trivial things, which probably shouldn't have made it into the story what so ever.
Along with the rambling of the author whoever did the editing was doing a rather poor job all together. I've noticed that some of the sentences in the book don't go together misplaced periods and commas and the reoccurring story of how a guide dog led a man into a field who had a fate with a harvester. Please take note that this did not happen, the dog was a regular farm dog. The story goes that the man (who is deaf by the way) is taking his dog on a walk when he happens to take a nap in the middle of a field and doesn't hear the harvester coming.
A very good read, but I had to take away two stars due to the bad editing and the false statement of the fellow and the harvester.
Michelle Williams simply relates the story of her new job as a mortuary technician with Britain's National Health Service (NHS), giving us a complete description of her and her coworkers' duties, dedication (or not) to the job, and personalities. She also includes what they do during their off time, just in case we believe that working in a mortuary somehow makes you anything other than just a human.
I enjoyed the humor--yes there is humor--probably because my dad loved death humor so I was exposed early and often! For example, my dad's favorite joke of all time involved the road construction worker who was run over by one of those huge road roller machines that flattens out newly laid asphalt. It was a weekend and the funeral home was closed, so they just slipped him under the door. (I swear, my dad was not weird! He was just really, really funny.)
I also recognized the people because I grew up in a very tiny town where everyone knew everyone else, and all stories were public. I went to school with the children of the local undertaker/funeral home owner. He had a fine collection of classic cars, lent a couple to the makers of the 1967 movie Bonnie and Clyde, and was rewarded by first having to harass them into returning his cars, and then by getting them back with "bullet" holes in them! Believe me when I tell you that this was the event of the decade in that town!
If you are not put off by real life descriptions of things you don't usually see or even want to see personally, and would like some laughs, then I highly recommend this book. It's a fun, quick, and easy read.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Best book I've ever read. But I'm also going to be a mortician.Published 24 days ago by Amazon Customer
Not the best book ever, but was worth the money! Enjoyed reading through it.Published 3 months ago by Hannah
This was absolutely a fascinating book. The reader is able to see how a person just like us, over time, becomes comfortable working among the dead.Published 8 months ago by Mihalis in Kansas
Great book about the daily live of a mortician as told by a young apprentice in the business. Ms. Williams is an excellent writer who shares the stories of those she works with and... Read morePublished 8 months ago by Eatwell
One of the most interesting books I read during college. It wasn't an assignment; it was part of my research for a novella I was working on. Really a great read! Read morePublished 9 months ago by Allison Beckert
I thought the book was detailed and really informative. There are some editing issues but those are not very noticeable. Read morePublished 10 months ago by cam4573
Usually men are the ones that end up doing the mortuary stuff, but this had a fresh appeal since it was written with a FEMALE as Staff. Interesting in and of itself. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Robin Sheridan
This book was okay, and hardly enough to call it a 'book'. Huge margins with loads of fluff about her personal life on her days off, which I skipped en bloc. Who cares. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Lee11307