Smoke Gets in Your Eyes And Other Lessons from the Crematory

Author: Caitlin Doughty
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
ISBN: 9780393245950
Release Date: 2014-09-15
Genre: Biography & Autobiography

“Morbid and illuminating” (Entertainment Weekly)—a young mortician goes behind the scenes 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).

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes

Author:
Publisher:
ISBN: 1444826883
Release Date: 2016
Genre: Large type books

Most people go to great lengths to avoid thinking about death, but when Caitlin Doughty - a young woman with a degree in medieval history and a flair for the macabre - took a job at Westwind Cremation & Burial, her morbid curiosity turned into her life's work. Leading us behind the black curtain of her profession, Caitlin takes us into a world of vivid characters (both living and deceased) and bizarre details (exactly how a flaming skull looks) - and explores the funeral practices of historic and contemporary cultures, calling for better ways of dealing with death and our dead.

From Here to Eternity Traveling the World to Find the Good Death

Author: Caitlin Doughty
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
ISBN: 9780393249903
Release Date: 2017-10-03
Genre: Biography & Autobiography

The best-selling author of Smoke Gets in Your Eyes expands our sense of what it means to treat the dead with “dignity.” Fascinated by our pervasive fear of dead bodies, mortician Caitlin Doughty set out to discover how other cultures care for the dead. From Here to Eternity is an immersive global journey that introduces compelling, powerful rituals almost entirely unknown in America. In rural Indonesia, she watches a man clean and dress his grandfather’s mummified body, which has resided in the family home for two years. In La Paz, she meets Bolivian natitas (cigarette-smoking, wish-granting human skulls), and in Tokyo she encounters the Japanese kotsuage ceremony, in which relatives use chopsticks to pluck their loved-ones’ bones from cremation ashes. With boundless curiosity and gallows humor, Doughty vividly describes decomposed bodies and investigates the world’s funerary history. She introduces deathcare innovators researching body composting and green burial, and examines how varied traditions, from Mexico’s Días de los Muertos to Zoroastrian sky burial help us see our own death customs in a new light. Doughty contends that the American funeral industry sells a particular—and, upon close inspection, peculiar—set of “respectful” rites: bodies are whisked to a mortuary, pumped full of chemicals, and entombed in concrete. She argues that our expensive, impersonal system fosters a corrosive fear of death that hinders our ability to cope and mourn. By comparing customs, she demonstrates that mourners everywhere respond best when they help care for the deceased, and have space to participate in the process. Exquisitely illustrated by artist Landis Blair, From Here to Eternity is an adventure into the morbid unknown, a story about the many fascinating ways people everywhere have confronted the very human challenge of mortality.

Mortician Diaries

Author: June Knights Nadle
Publisher: New World Library
ISBN: 1577318579
Release Date: 2010-10-04
Genre: Self-Help

After 50 years in the funeral business, 80-year-old grandmother-undertaker June Knights Nadle has seen it all — at least all of what goes on before, during, and after life’s ultimate challenge. In Mortician Diaries, she combines equal doses of charm, humanity, humor, and reality to tell it like it is on this taboo subject. A kind of Prairie Home Companion set in a mortuary, the book features memorable stories of regret — “I wish I had kissed him on the morning he had the accident” — and renewal, as the lesson of facing life’s last great event is learned, or not. Some of the accounts here are funny, some sad. Some are haunting in their strangeness as they reveal the many ways in which people cope. Along the way, the reader is drawn into Nadle’s own life story as an unconventional woman who devoted herself to the dead and to those they left behind.

Rest in Pieces

Author: Bess Lovejoy
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
ISBN: 9781451655018
Release Date: 2013-03-12
Genre: Biography & Autobiography

A “marvelously macabre” (Kirkus Reviews) history of the bizarre afterlives of corpses of the celebrated and notorious dead. For some of the most influential figures in history, death marked the start of a new adventure. The famous deceased have been stolen, burned, sold, pickled, frozen, stuffed, impersonated, and even filed away in a lawyer’s office. Their fingers, teeth, toes, arms, legs, skulls, hearts, lungs, and nether regions have embarked on voyages that crisscross the globe and stretch the imagination. Counterfeiters tried to steal Lincoln’s corpse. Einstein’s brain went on a cross-country road trip. And after Lord Horatio Nelson perished at Trafalgar, his sailors submerged him in brandy—which they drank. From Alexander the Great to Elvis Presley, and from Beethoven to Dorothy Parker, Rest in Pieces connects the lives of the famous dead to the hilarious and horrifying adventures of their corpses, and traces the evolution of cultural attitudes toward death.

Ghostland

Author: Colin Dickey
Publisher: Penguin
ISBN: 9781101980200
Release Date: 2017-10-03
Genre: History

Dickey, piqued by a house hunt in Los Angeles that revealed derelict foreclosures and "zombie houses", embarks on a journey across the continental United States to decode and unpack the American history repressed in our most famous haunted places. With boundless curiosity, Dickey conjures the dead by focusing on questions of the living -- how do we deal with stories about ghosts, and how do we inhabit and move through spaces that have been deemed haunted? Paying attention not only to the true facts behind a ghost story, but also to the ways in which changes are made to those facts and why, Dickey paints a version of American history left out of the textbooks, one of things left undone and crimes left unsolved.

Does This Mean You ll See Me Naked

Author: Robert D. Webster
Publisher: Sourcebooks, Inc.
ISBN: 9781402250835
Release Date: 2011-04-26
Genre: Humor

With curious anecdotes and unbelievable truths, funeral director and embalmer Webster shares empathetic yet entertainingly quirky stories about the funeral business. He answers those embarrassing questions foremost in people's minds and provides readers with behind-the scenes stories of what really goes on after one dies.

Down Among the Dead Men

Author: Michelle Williams
Publisher: Soft Skull Press
ISBN: 9781593763886
Release Date: 2010-08-10
Genre: Biography & Autobiography

Michelle Williams is young and attractive, with close family ties, a busy social life . . . and an unusual occupation. When she impulsively applies to be a mortuary technician and is offered the position, she has no idea that her decision to accept will be one of the most momentous of her life. “What I didn’t realize then,” she writes, “was that I was about to start one of the most amazing jobs you can do.” To Williams, life in the mortuary is neither grim nor frightening. She introduces readers to a host of unique characters: pathologists (many eccentric, some utterly crazy), undertakers, and the man from the coroner’s office who sings to her every morning. No two days are alike, and while Williams’s sensitivity to the dead never wavers, her tales from the crypt range from mischievous to downright shocking. Readers won’t forget the fitness fanatic run over while doing nighttime push-ups on the road, the man so large he had to be carted in via refrigerated truck, or the guide dog who led his owner onto railway tracks—and left him there. The indomitable Williams never bats an eye, even as she is confronted—daily—with situations that would leave the rest of us speechless.

Mortuary Science

Author: John F. Szabo
Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield
ISBN: 9780810845879
Release Date: 1993-01-01
Genre: Science

Szabo presents a thorough bibliographical examination of the funeral industry and related subjects. Most citations are annotated, with special notes on editions and reprints.

Good Mourning

Author: Elizabeth Meyer
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
ISBN: 9781476783659
Release Date: 2015-08-25
Genre: Biography & Autobiography

Elizabeth Meyer’s “sweet, touching, and funny” (Booklist) memoir reads as if “Carrie Bradshaw worked in a funeral home a la Six Feet Under” (Publishers Weekly, starred review). Good Mourning offers a behind-the-scenes look at a legendary funeral chapel on New York City’s Upper East Side—mixing big money, society drama, and the universal experience of grieving—told from the unique perspective of a fashionista turned funeral planner. Elizabeth Meyer stumbled upon a career in the midst of planning her own father’s funeral, which she turned into an upbeat party with Rolling Stones music, thousands of dollars worth of her mother’s favorite flowers, and a personalized eulogy. Starting as a receptionist, Meyer quickly found she had a knack for helping people cope with their grief, as well as creating fitting send-offs for some of the city’s most high-powered residents. Meyer has seen it all: two women who found out their deceased husband (yes, singular) was living a double life, a famous corpse with a missing brain, and funerals that cost more than most weddings. By turns illuminating, emotional, and darkly humorous, Good Mourning is a lesson in how the human heart grieves and grows—whether you’re wearing this season’s couture or drug-store flip-flops.

Curtains

Author: Tom Jokinen
Publisher: Da Capo Press
ISBN: 9780306818967
Release Date: 2010-03-23
Genre: Biography & Autobiography

At forty-four, Tom Jokinen decided to quit his job in order to become an apprentice undertaker, setting out to ask the questions: What is the right thing to do when someone dies? With the marketplace offering new options (go green, go anti-corporate, go Disney, be packed into an artificial reef and dropped in the Atlantic...), is there still room for tradition? In a year of adventures both hair-raising and hilarious, Jokinen finds a world that is radically changed since Jessica Mitford revised The American Way of Death, more surprising than Six Feet Under, and even funnier and more illuminating than Stiff. If Bill Bryson were to apprentice at a funeral home, searching for the meaning of life and death, you'd have Curtains.

My Grandfather s Gallery

Author: Anne Sinclair
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
ISBN: 9780374711795
Release Date: 2014-09-16
Genre: Biography & Autobiography

A singular man in the history of modern art, betrayed by Vichy, is the subject of this riveting family memoir On September 20, 1940, one of the most famous European art dealers disembarked in New York, one of hundreds of Jewish refugees fleeing Vichy France. Leaving behind his beloved Paris gallery, Paul Rosenberg had managed to save his family, but his paintings—modern masterpieces by Cézanne, Monet, Sisley, and others—were not so fortunate. As he fled, dozens of works were seized by Nazi forces and the art dealer's own legacy was eradicated. More than half a century later, Anne Sinclair uncovered a box filled with letters. "Curious in spite of myself," she writes, "I plunged into these archives, in search of the story of my family. To find out who my mother's father really was . . . a man hailed as a pioneer in the world of modern art, who then became a pariah in his own country during the Second World War. I was overcome with a desire to fit together the pieces of this French story of art and war." Drawing on her grandfather's intimate correspondence with Picasso, Matisse, Braque, and others, Sinclair takes us on a personal journey through the life of a legendary member of the Parisian art scene in My Grandfather's Gallery. Rosenberg's story is emblematic of millions of Jews, rich and poor, whose lives were indelibly altered by World War II. Sinclair's journey to reclaim her family history paints a picture of modern art on both sides of the Atlantic between the 1920s and 1950s that reframes twentieth-century art history.

Past Mortems

Author: Carla Valentine
Publisher: Sphere
ISBN: 0751565342
Release Date: 2018-03-13
Genre:

Part memoir and part manifesto, Valentine's book lifts the lid on daily life in the mortuary . . . Valentine bares her own soul . . . with visceral attention to physical and emotional detail - Wendy Moore, Guardian A fascinating portrait . . . one seriously intriguing read - Glamour A grisly topic, but a glorious read - Mail on Sunday A day in the life of Carla Valentine - curator, pathology technician and 'death professional' - is not your average day. She spent ten years training and working as an Anatomical Pathology Technologist: where the mortuary slab was her desk, and that day's corpses her task list. Past Mortems tells Carla's stories of those years, as well as investigating the body alongside our attitudes towards death - shedding light on what the living can learn from dead and the toll the work can take on the living souls who carry it out. Fascinating and insightful, Past Mortems reveals the truth about what happens when the mortuary doors swing shut or the lid of the coffin closes . . .

Stiff The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers

Author: Mary Roach
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
ISBN: 0393069192
Release Date: 2004-05-17
Genre: Science

"One of the funniest and most unusual books of the year....Gross, educational, and unexpectedly sidesplitting."—Entertainment Weekly Stiff is an oddly compelling, often hilarious exploration of the strange lives of our bodies postmortem. For two thousand years, cadavers—some willingly, some unwittingly—have been involved in science's boldest strides and weirdest undertakings. In this fascinating account, Mary Roach visits the good deeds of cadavers over the centuries and tells the engrossing story of our bodies when we are no longer with them.

Confessions of a Funeral Director

Author: Caleb Wilde
Publisher: HarperCollins
ISBN: 9780062465269
Release Date: 2017-09-26
Genre: Social Science

The blogger behind Confessions of a Funeral Director—what Time magazine called a "must read"—reflects on mortality and the powerful lessons death holds for every one of us in this compassionate and thoughtful spiritual memoir that combines the humor and insight of Smoke Gets in Your Eyes with the poignancy and brevity of When Breath Becomes Air. We are a people who deeply fear death. While humans are biologically wired to evade death for as long as possible, we have become too adept at hiding from it, vilifying it, and—when it can be avoided no longer—letting the professionals take over. Sixth-generation funeral director Caleb Wilde understands this reticence and fear. He had planned to get as far away from the family business as possible. He wanted to make a difference in the world, and how could he do that if all the people he worked with were . . . dead? Slowly, he discovered that caring for the deceased and their loved ones was making a difference—in other people’s lives to be sure, but it also seemed to be saving his own. A spirituality of death began to emerge as he observed: The family who lovingly dressed their deceased father for his burial The act of embalming a little girl that offered a gift back to her grieving family The nursing home that honored a woman’s life by standing in procession as her body was taken away The funeral that united a conflicted community Through stories like these, told with equal parts humor and poignancy, Wilde offers an intimate look into the business and a new perspective on living and dying