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27

THURSDAY

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When body and soul part ways, Mary Roach is there. In Stiff: The Curious Livese of Human Cadavers, she blew the lid off the doings of dead bodies. In her new book, Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife, she’s on the trail of the surviving bit—the ghost, the soul, the ectoplasm, the what-have-you. (When it comes to afterlife, believing is often seeing, not the reverse.) In spirited prose, Roach recounts attempts to observe the soul by such means as weighing tubercular patients at the exact moment of death, talking with the dead (in a chapter called “Can You Here Me Now?”), and rigging a laptop to an operating-room ceiling to gather data on cardiac patients’ near-death experiences. Roach’s book probably won’t make any believers out of skeptics or vice versa, but there’s definitely laughter after death, you’ll learn, when Roach reads at 7 p.m. at Politics and Prose, 5015 Connecticut Ave. NW. Free. (202) 364-1919. (Janet Hopf)