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Dissecting 'Gray's Anatomy'
Date of Review: 
Louis Bayard
The Washington Post

Like any good teacher, Hayes has a knack for metaphor. The still, close air in an anatomy lab is "like the gym of the dead." A lung is "a wet mound of gray taffeta," a kidney is "a pomegranate, whose leathery rind belies its jewel box interior," the hand is " a minefield of nerves" and a human head with the skullcap removed is "a nightmare cookie jar." Hayes is particularly struck by "the sound of skin being pulled off, a tearing sound, like old Con-Tact paper being torn from a shelf. With the removal of the skin, what remains on the torso is a lumpy coating of bright yellow fat. It does not just scoop off; it has to be either cut or plucked away with tweezers." Um, ew.

All laud and honor to Hayes, though. In perusing the body's 650 muscles and 206 bones, he has made the case that we are, as the psalmist wrote, "fearfully and wonderfully made" and that dissection has an aesthetic all its own. The act of carving open a body becomes, in this context, a perverse act of love, a desecration that consecrates "the extraordinary, the inner architecture of the human form."