Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory (Paperback)

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Staff Reviews

Caitlin Doughty does for us what Jessica Mitford did in 1963 with The American Way of Death. Doughty writes a beautiful and thought-provoking memoir, reminding us that, as Americans, we do not acknowledge or respect death as a reality of life. She discusses how we've allowed our grieving and death rituals to become cold and commercialized. An honest look into the modern death industry and how we don't - but really should - understand it. 

— From Chelsea

Did you ever read the first line of a book to see if it grabbed you? Well, this odd memoir grabbed me from the first sentence and wouldn't let go until the end of the source notes. Most of us probably hold at least a little bit of morbid curiosity about what goes on behind the doors at your local crematorium. Your curiosity will be more than satisfied by Ms. Doughty's account of her years as a burgeoning mortician. In addition to details such as how they keep those darn eyelids closed during the funeral, Doughty educates us on death rituals from around the world and obscure funeral laws. There was a day when the families of the dead were responsible for preparing the bodies for burial, but -- with the advent of the funeral business -- our society has become detached from the reality of death, to the point of denial. Doughty seeks to reconnect us with the very last page of the last chapter in our book of life.

— From Mark B.


Armed with a degree in medieval history and a flair for the macabre, Caitlin Doughty took a job at a crematory and turned morbid curiosity into her life's work. She cared for bodies of every color, shape, and affliction, and became an intrepid explorer in the world of the dead. In this best-selling memoir, brimming with gallows humor and vivid characters, she marvels at the gruesome history of undertaking and relates her unique coming-of-age story with bold curiosity and mordant wit. By turns hilarious, dark, and uplifting, Smoke Gets in Your Eyes reveals how the fear of dying warps our society and "will make you reconsider how our culture treats the dead" (San Francisco Chronicle).

Product Details
ISBN: 9780393351903
ISBN-10: 0393351904
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
Publication Date: September 28th, 2015
Pages: 272
Language: English