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What happens when we die? Does the light just go out and that’s that—the million-year nap? Or will some part of my personality, my me-ness, persist? What will that feel like? What will I do all day? Is there a place to plug in my laptop?
Mary Roach, the bestselling author of Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers now trains her considerable humour and curiosity on the human soul, seeking answers from a varied and fascinating crew of contemporary and historical soul-searchers: scientists, schemers, engineers, mediums, all trying to prove (or disprove) that life goes on after we die. Electromagnetic hauntings, out-of-body experiences, ghosts and lawsuits: Mary Roach sifts and weighs the evidence in her hilarious, inimitable style.
What is the evidence for reincarnation? Can we determine the weight of the human soul by observing someone on a scale at the moment of death? What about the colour? Is it true that the climate of the afterlife is like Florida without the humidity? Mary Roach tracks down a wonderful cast of students and practitioners of the paranormal, and as she sifts the evidence one thing becomes clear. The dead may tend to be uninspired conversationalists but you can always rely on the living for fascinating entertainment.
‘She has a huge heart, a strong sense of empathy for the oddball, and she’s willing to go to great lengths to find and report stories from the hinterlands of understanding.’
‘Funny, inquisitive and uncowed by experts, Roach is the general reader’s ideal emissary to the arcana of serious science. Whether portraying students of reincarnation or sorting through spiritualist mumbo jumbo—and putting the ech back in ectoplasm—Roach’s writing has what science has so far failed to find: a divine spark.’
‘This is Roach at her best.’
‘Roach is an original who can enliven any subject with wit, keen reporting and a sly intelligence.’
‘What she celebrates is the passion that drives the inquiry, that keeps people at their research despite the loneliness—and mockery. She may have a skeptic’s mind, but she writes with a believer’s heart.’