Eric Maroney, author of Religious Syncretism, The Other Zions, & published fiction
Wednesday, October 21, 2015
Working Stiff: Two Years, 262 Bodies, and the Making of a Medical Examiner
In Working Stiff: Two Years, 262 Bodies, and the Making of a
Medical Examiner, Dr. JudyMelinek, in tandem with her husband,
have written a more than average account of her
time as an apprentice medical examiner, which overlapped with the destruction
of the World Trade Center on 9-11.
of this book may make the squeamish cringe.
She explains that many of her tools can also be found in a butcher shop;
when she depicts how a brain is cut into thin slices for examination, I imagined deli slicer working on a breast of
turkey . Melinek does
an admirable job illustrating how a medical examiner must treat the human
body as a scene for clues; and how the medical examiner must divorce him or herself
emotionally from the job of dismembering the human body.
The only time she admits to losing her professional guard is when victims
of American Airlines Flight 587 in 2001 were brought to the
morgue. A bag marked “body parts”
instead contains small children. Pregnant
herself, she steps back, unable to further look. A male colleague performed the autopsies in her stead. In this one case, motherhood, it seems trumped science. And one can see how.