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Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory Hardcover – September 15, 2014
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“Alternately heartbreaking and hilarious, fascinating and freaky, vivid and morbid, Smoke Gets in Your Eyes is witty, sharply drawn, and deeply moving. Like a poisonous cocktail, Caitlin Doughty's memoir intoxicates and enchants even as it encourages you to embrace oblivion; she breathes life into death.” (Dodai Stewart, deputy editor of Jezebel.com)
“[Doughty’s] sincere, hilarious, and perhaps life-altering memoir is a must-read for anyone who plans on dying.” (Katharine Fronk - Booklist, Starred review)
“Caitlin Doughty is best known for her YouTube series Ask a Mortician, and she brings the same charisma and drollery to her essay collection Smoke Gets in Your Eyes. Think Sloane Crosley meets Six Feet Under.” (Kevin Nguyen - Grantland)
“Entertaining and thought-provoking.” (Julia Jenkins - Shelf Awareness)
“Demonically funny dispatches.” (O Magazine)
“Morbid and illuminating.” (Entertainment Weekly)
“A book as graphic and morbid as this one could easily suck its readers into a bout of sorrow, but Doughty―a trustworthy tour guide through the repulsive and wondrous world of death―keeps us laughing.” (Rachel Lubitz - Washington Post)
“Doughty reels you in with wonderful anecdotes about her work. Intermixed with the humor is a love of life that will make you reconsider how our culture treats the dead.” (San Francisco Chronicle)
About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
The author of this book has been fascinated with the subject of death and dying since she was a young girl and witnessed the death of another young girl who took a fall at a local mall. For years afterwards she was filled with angst and trepidation and described herself as "functionally morbid."
When she went to college she got a degree in medieval history with a focus on death and rituals and afterwards got a job working at a mortuary - the Westwind Cremation & Burial.
This book describes her experiences facing death straight on and how it actually eased her own existential angst and made her better able to appreciate and enjoy her own life. We not only read (detailed) descriptions of what happens to bodies in a crematorium, we also learn about other mortuary practices and what really happens behind the scenes.
The author makes such an important case against our own culture's tendency to avoid death (and aging!) and to try to avoid its very existence. She points out how in the past and how even today - in other cultures - family and neighbors took care of their dead and witnessed dying all the time. She points out how important that is to accepting our own death and by doing so, make it less frightening and esoteric.
Lest I give the impression that this is a depressing book, for me it was not. There are so many laugh-out-loud moments and when I finished the last page I found myself with a little less of my own existential angst.
This book reminded me a lot of science writer Mary Roach and I feel like I'd love to hang out and be friends with both of them. Ms.Read more ›
In addition to her own story, Doughty skillfully weaves in a history of embalming, American funeral traditions, other cultures' funeral rites and beliefs about death, and how the mortuary industry works, and it's all quite interesting, if sometimes a little difficult to read. If you're squeamish, it might be best to steer clear, as Doughty spares no description in her quest to open the reader's eyes to what really happens to our bodies after we die and how we can best understand and deal with death more honestly and directly than we currently do.
I don't know if I should say I "enjoyed" this book the way I would enjoy a novel, but I certainly appreciated it, especially since I have gone through the deaths of family members and am getting on in years myself, and I feel it's important to explore and be able to talk about our own ends openly, rather than tiptoeing around the subject.
I would recommend this book to anyone with an interest in the mortuary/funeral industry, medical students (doctors in this country don't deal with death very well), and anyone who, like me, wants to understand more about death and how to plan for it.
I was not ready.
I only read a few chapters and had to put it down. Perhaps its my age (though I'm not that old!) I am facing mortality possibly sooner than I surely thought I would. And reading about what goes on behind closed doors, even though Doughty seems to be a great storyteller, I can't bring myself to finish this.
I'm giving this four stars because I certainly can't fault the author for my own lack of misjudgment, but not 5 stars because perhaps if she had written it in a...less witty (though I totally understand and appreciate her being herself!) and more oh...gah, I don't know, tender? way, I might have been able to swallow my fear and plod on.
As a Vine reviewer, I am obligated to leave a review, and I've never had this situation occur (and I feel dreadful about it!). I probably would have done well to read the first few chapters prior to choosing this, and I think it's a good recommendation for those considering reading Smoke...you might think you're ready to read about death, but once you open that door, you might wish you had kept it closed.
Bravo to Doughty and those who do the jobs they do.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Such an interesting read. I've had friends from all background read it and love it.Published 20 hours ago by Amazon Customer
Oh my god this book is amazing!! Filled with insights and observations that are both humble and humorous. I felt like Ms. Read morePublished 1 day ago by Al
...you'll want to ask a mortician. It's not a career I'd choose, but I hate to think where Western civilization would be without people like our intrepid author. Read morePublished 2 days ago by Amazon Customer
Sense of humor along with an account of the morturary business gives the reader much to consider when our time comesPublished 6 days ago by ShaynaMadel
I was sad to complete this book! I really enjoyed reading the book and following along with the various situations of the 'Crematory'. Read morePublished 11 days ago by Debbie Lovelady
Wonderful reading for public transportation! :) And any time. Bright, hilarious, thought-provoking. My only complaint is, that it's finite and ended more quickly than I was ready... Read morePublished 15 days ago by B.
An honest and humorous book about death. This book led me to get my will together. Death is inevitable. Caitlin helps your realize this in a non-terrifying way.Published 16 days ago by Amazon Customer