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).
The Sexy Nerd's Review...
I’m not exactly sure why I selected this book as my next one to read, but the title intrigued me, and Amazon was offering credits toward future books. So, I guess I do know why I selected this as my next read. 😂
I love reading horror books, but this was far from a fictional story. This is a memoir of sorts by Caitlin Doughty who worked in a crematory and all the things she found out about death. One might think, why on earth does anyone want to think about death? Well, truth being, it is very much a huge component of our lives as much as the living and breathing. It’s what each and every one of us will have to do at some point, and Caitlin, being at a ripe age of twenty-three, got to witness something very few of us will ever glimpse.
When she began telling the stories of what happens to the human body and how she and her coworkers dealt with all sorts of human situations, the humor she managed to muster was truly refreshing. In fact, I found myself laughing at her sarcasm. What I most enjoyed is how real she was with what she described wasn’t for the faint of heart. From difficult conversations she had to endure with family members of the deceased to showing dignity to the dead, this was an incredible read.
What I truly appreciated with her work and her words is how she showed so much respect to the dead. She treated each corpse as if this was a person she knew personally or was a dear loved one. I would hope that all individuals working in the death industry would be that respectful. I realize that working in death is a business. It isn’t any different than working in a church selling religion. At the end of the day, it is an entity that makes millions upon millions of dollars each year. Caitlin even wrote a lot of historical facts about the cremation process which I really delved into. From Greek mythology to Christianity, she had some little nugget of death information that any living person could gleam. Even though death is not something most want to talk about, I have to say this book was spot on and I truly enjoyed it. Too bad I didn’t know about this book nine years ago when it first published, but the one thing I love about books, there is never a right or wrong time to read them. I have thousands of books I would love to read in my lifetime, and I highly doubt I’ll live long enough to do just that. 😛
The Sexy Nerd gives Smoke Gets In Your Eyes five more puffs of smoke. If you’re interested in what happens when your loved ones die, Caitlin will enlighten you on the subject. This was an awesome read. And, if you’re like me and didn’t catch this book when it first came out, I highly recommend you check it out now and get to reading. You’ll learn some interesting facts and find yourself laughing death directly in its face. Until next time, Nerds, you know what to do!