Smoke Gets in your Eyes & Other Lessons From the Crematory

Smoke Gets in your Eyes & Other Lessons From the Crematory

Book - 2014
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WW Norton
A young mortician goes behind the scenes, unafraid of the gruesome (and fascinating) details of her curious profession.
Most people want to avoid thinking about death, but Caitlin Doughty—a twenty-something with a degree in medieval history and a flair for the macabre—took a job at a crematory, turning morbid curiosity into her life’s work. Thrown into a profession of gallows humor and vivid characters (both living and very dead), Caitlin learned to navigate the secretive culture of those who care for the deceased.Smoke Gets in Your Eyes tells an unusual coming-of-age story full of bizarre encounters and unforgettable scenes. Caring for dead bodies of every color, shape, and affliction, Caitlin soon becomes an intrepid explorer in the world of the dead. She describes how she swept ashes from the machines (and sometimes onto her clothes) and reveals the strange history of cremation and undertaking, marveling at bizarre and wonderful funeral practices from different cultures.Her eye-opening, candid, and often hilarious story is like going on a journey with your bravest friend to the cemetery at midnight. She demystifies death, leading us behind the black curtain of her unique profession. And she answers questions you didn’t know you had: Can you catch a disease from a corpse? How many dead bodies can you fit in a Dodge van? What exactly does a flaming skull look like?Honest and heartfelt, self-deprecating and ironic, Caitlin's engaging style makes this otherwise taboo topic both approachable and engrossing. Now a licensed mortician with an alternative funeral practice, Caitlin argues that our fear of dying warps our culture and society, and she calls for better ways of dealing with death (and our dead).

Baker & Taylor
The blogger behind the popular Web series "Ask a Mortician" describes her experiences working at a crematory, including how she sometimes got ashes on her clothes and how she cared for bodies of all shapes and sizes.

Book News
This memoir looks at the introduction of the young author, a mortician, to her first job at a crematorium. It is written in a self-consciously hip style; her encounters with dead bodies are described as the same kind of tittilating forbidden activity as her living in San Francisco and encountering lesbian roommates and Latino drag queens. Unlike the work of Mary Roach, the book is memoir in blog-length vignettes. In general, it avoids journalism or information on biology, provides some information on history, and focuses on the author's adventures in the Crematorium. Designed to support a social media following, the book's underlying goal is to get people to accept the reality of death. Its primary tool to this end is shock humor. Annotation ©2015 Ringgold, Inc., Portland, OR (protoview.com)

Baker
& Taylor

The blogger behind the popular Web series "Ask a Mortician" describes her experiences working at a crematory, including how she sometimes got ashes on her clothes and how she cared for bodies of all shapes and sizes.

Publisher: New York : W.W. Norton & Company, [2014]
New York : W.W. Norton & Company, [2014]
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780393240238
0393240231
Branch Call Number: B DOUGHTY 2014
Characteristics: x, 254 pages ; 22 cm

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c
ctkvlk
Aug 11, 2017

This author has a great voice--clever, funny and open. Though she's waay different from me, she has a way of writing that anyone can relate to. Fun and fascinating.

l
laphampeak
Jul 14, 2017

You couldn't get closer to a mortician/creamator than with Doughtry in this amazingly stark, funny, yet soul searchingly realistic trip into that transition of death. It leaves me with questions of my own wishes. The question of cremation, rituals, funerals, embalming, etc. are brought to the forefront and no longer a simple act of tradition-and"at a time like this, there is no limit to creating rituals relevant to our modern lives". No one could have brought to life (ha) such a subject with life and death stories.

j
jwadhams
Jul 13, 2017

If you or someone you love will die some day, you need to read this book. It's beautifully written, funny, sad, and both personal and informative.

Marlowe Apr 21, 2017

I came across this while browsing available eBooks, and was initially intrigued by the title. It reminded me of something, and upon reading the summary, thought I would give it a try. Doughty's life is certainly interesting. At first, I struggled with the idea a young woman would want to work in a crematory. But as Doughty fills up in on her life, and passions, and personal beliefs, her chosen profession does not seem that weird after all. The cultural and historical information that she provides throughout the work is incredibly interesting, and has changed my views on death and end of life arrangements. I think Doughty offers a balanced view of western practices, and while she certainly has clear opinions, at no point to I think her intent is judgement. Her career has allowed her to see death from so many perspectives, and see how different people react. This is a fast and engaging read, that I encourage others to try.

AL_HANNAHS Nov 16, 2016

Thank you to the author for writing this book. I found it to be very enlightening, personal, and informative. In a society that has moved as far away from the topic of death and dying as it can, I think this is a very important book. Witty, entertaining, and at times very sobering, this is a great read for anyone who wants to know a little more about what goes on behind the scenes at the local mortuary.

t
therhiannamater
Oct 19, 2016

“The fear of death is why we build cathedrals, have children, declare war, and watch cat videos online at three a.m.”

Doughty's writing is so clever and well-informed that both the anthropologist and the inner dark minion sides of my heart are completely appeased. The biting, unforgiving nature of her writing is uniquely charming and informative.

AL_BRIDGET Aug 24, 2016

I love the author's YouTube videos "Ask a Mortician," because she's so personable and interesting. The book is part memoir, part discussion/history of the funeral industry, and I loved all of the information she imparts in such memorable and engaging ways. A great book that can start really valuable conversations about aging, death, and medical care.

m
melaniecrampton
Jul 13, 2015

Excellent book! Well written, honest and respectful yet extremely entertaining and informative. Such an important topic to think about and discuss in our society.

lbarkema Jul 08, 2015

This was really interesting, much like the kind-of interest one has in "Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers" if science and death interest them, which is does me. I also liked how it was more of a study on death culture, and how Americans' views have changed over time and how our "beliefs" are not really rooted in anything substantial whereas many other cultures practice rituals of death that have been their belief for centuries or thousands of years. Definitely recommended for people who are interested in the science part of death, but also interested in a mini philosophical discussion on death practices.

KateHillier Jun 19, 2015

I'm a casual fan of Caitlin Doughty's YouTube channel 'Ask a Mortician', and was surprised and pleased to hear that she was writing a book. Then I got caught up. If you're curious or fascinated (whether morbidly or not) check out the 'Ask a Mortican' YouTube series as well as check this book out. She's up front about her experiences working in the funeral industry, has clearly put a lot of research into this little book, and she certainly has a nice dollop of gallows humour in for good measure. In an age where the population is aging and this conversations are becoming more and more necessary to have a society let alone as a family member, this book may help take the edge off a little bit. I mean, don't get me wrong, Doughty is very clear on her opinions and wishes about death and death culture in Western society but it's refreshing considering this a world that most of us know very little about and are really rather afraid of.

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