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

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If you are a fan of Mary Roach, you will love Caitlin Doughty. She is smart, funny, and absolutely obsessed with death. Her mission is to convince the world that a preoccupation with the macabre isn’t a red flag, but a healthy way of coming to terms with mortality and alleviating anxiety. As a culture we have sanitized and buried death, and our modern rituals sorely lack significance and connection. Smoke Gets In Your Eyes is a manifesto for death acceptance, and the hard and necessary work of confronting your inevitable demise. I tore through this book with abandon, and I still can’t stop thinking and talking about it. Long live Caitlin Doughty, and when she dies, may she be laid out on a nature preserve and eaten by vultures, which is exactly what she wants.

— Kat

In her early 20’s, Caitlin Doughty worked in an Oakland mortuary running the cremation machines. In her memoir, Doughty blends mortuary stories with the history of death rituals and argues for a cultural need to become more familiar with death. Her charming voice makes this an enjoyable, fascinating read. It may seem unorthodox, but we all know someone who will love this!

— Flannery

Sometimes a book jumps out at you that you didn't even know you needed in your life, and this was one of those books for me. Caitlin Doughtry tells her story about being a mortician in the Bay Area and it is dark and hilarious while at the same time being informative.

— Karena

I fell in love with this book for the wonderfully written, humorous, heart-breaking story of Doughty herself. If you’re a fan of weird science or the macabre, chances are you’ve heard of this – the entertainingly honest memoir of a modern-day mortician. If, like me, you put off picking it up, take my word for it and hesitate no longer. I was fascinated by the humanizing facts of death.

— Jocelyn


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).

About the Author

Caitlin Doughty is a mortician and the New York Times best-selling author of Smoke Gets in Your Eyes and From Here to Eternity. She is the creator of the web series Ask a Mortician. She lives in Los Angeles, California, where she owns and runs a funeral home.

Praise For…

[Doughty’s] sincere, hilarious, and perhaps life-altering memoir is a must-read for anyone who plans on dying.
— Katharine Fronk

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

Entertaining and thought-provoking.
— Julia Jenkins

Demonically funny dispatches.

Morbid and illuminating.

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

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.

Coverage from NPR

Product Details
ISBN: 9780393240238
ISBN-10: 0393240231
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
Publication Date: September 15th, 2014
Pages: 272
Language: English
ABA Admin Product Details
Data Source: ONIX
Created At: 3/7/2014 08:25am
Last Updated At: 2/28/2020 02:00am