The incredible stories from Carla Valentine's ten years as a mortuary assistant - by turns poignant, humorous and fascinating
A day in the life of Carla Valentine - curator, pathology technician and 'death professional' - is not your average day. Her working life has been spent with the dead, and in Past Mortems she reveals what really happens behind the doors of our houses of the dead, or, as they're more commonly known - our mortuaries.
Carla's gap year was spent, not in Peru, but as an embalmers assistant, when her career began. She then trained and subsequently worked as a mortuary technician - or Anatomical Pathology Technologist - for eight years - though these days, Carla is Technical Curator at Barts Pathology Museum, with over five thousand specimens in her care, from teeth to toes.
Fantastically written with Carla's signature warmth and humour, Past Mortems tells the stories of her years in the mortuary, how surprised people would be when the door was opened by a 5 ft 3 blonde, rather than Lurch; that pathologists prefer Volvos and why you should call the coroner when you find buried treasure.
But, of course, Carla also explores our how we examine the dead - starting with the Y-incision and moving through every part of anatomy - she investigates the body alongside our present and historical attitudes towards death, shedding light on what the living can learn from dead - and the toll it can take on those living souls who work with them.
About the Author
Carla Valentine works with the dead: she's your average chick who just happens to know as much about corpses as she does cocktails. After studying forensics, Carla assisted pathologists with post-mortems for years, before eventually becoming the Technical Curator of the world's most famous pathology museum. When it comes to death, she truly is a world-class expert.
A grisly topic, but a glorious read * Mail on Sunday *
It is an understatement to say that Valentine is passionate about embracing death . . . Part memoir and part manifesto, Valentine's book lifts the lid on daily life in the mortuary . . . [Valentine] bares her own soul . . . with visceral attention to physical and emotional detail -- Wendy Moore * Guardian *
a fascinating portrait . . . one seriously intriguing read * Glamour *
There are sections of Valentine's writing that fondly brought back my first post-mortem experience. Rather than listening to the pathologist's monologue about coronary arteries, I was mesmerised by the painstaking focus of the APT . . . Valentine succeeds in presenting her trade as a caring one. -- Kate Womersley * Spectator *
Number Of Pages: 320
Published: 26th April 2017
Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 23.4 x 15.5
Weight (kg): 0.39
Edition Number: 1