Smoke Gets in Your Eyes - And Other Lessons from the Crematorium

Author(s): Caitlin Doughty

Society & Culture

A girl always remembers the first corpse she shaves. It is the only event in her life more awkward than her first kiss or losing her virginity. The hands of time will never move quite so slowly as when you are standing over the dead body of an elderly man with a pink plastic razor in your hand. From her very first day at Westwind Cremation & Burial, twenty-three-year-old Caitlin Doughty threw herself into the gruesome daily tasks of her curious new profession. From caring for bodies of all shapes and sizes, picking up corpses from the hospital morgue, sweeping ashes from the cremation machines (sometimes onto her clothes) and learning to deal with mourning families, Caitlin comes face to face with the very thing we go to great lengths to avoid thinking about - death. But as she started to wonder about the lives of those she cremated, and found herself confounded by people's erratic reactions to death, Caitlin's feelings began to evolve in unexpected ways. Now a licensed mortician, Caitlin tells the story of her fumbling apprenticeship with the dead. Exploring our death rituals - and those of other cultures - she pleads the case for healthier attitudes around death and dying. Full of bizarre encounters, gallows humour and vivid characters (both living and very dead), this eye-opening account makes this otherwise terrifying subject urgent and fascinating.


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A fascinating look at the funeral industry and an exploration of how we deal with death and our dead from a young feisty, funny and fearless mortician

* America's (kinda dark) sweetheart Huffington Post * [Doughty's] sincere, hilarious, and perhaps life-altering memoir is a must-read for anyone who plans on dying Booklist * Strange and funny. It may well blow your mind wide open Flavorwire * Demonically funny dispatches O Magazine

Caitlin Doughty was born and raised in Hawaii. She moved to California after gaining a degree in Medieval History from the University of Chicago. She is now a licensed funeral director living and working in LA. She is also a writer, performer and film-maker and is the creator of 'The Order of the Good Death', an online community of artists, actors, poets, musicians and directors who are committed to staring down their death fears through art.

General Fields

  • : 9781782111030
  • : W.W. Norton
  • : W.W. Norton
  • : September 2014
  • : June 2015
  • : September 2020
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : Caitlin Doughty
  • : Paperback
  • : Main
  • : en
  • : 306.9
  • : 272