Smoke Gets In Your Eyes by Caitlin Doughty


Morbid? Certainly. Insistently, even. I’ve never read a book quite so explicitly preoccupied with dying before.

Smoke Gets In Your Eyes is an autobiography of Caitlin Doughty’s experience working in Westwind Crematorium and Burial. After a childhood of morbid curiosity but little actual experience of death, 23 year old Doughty gets the job to exorcise her demons.

And she does. The main characters are her colleagues, her corpses that she prepares and cremates, and their respective families. She ponders different aspects of death and dying through her own experience. Most of it is gruesome (melting human fat) and galling (dying alone, discovered weeks later).

Which is very much the intention of the book- by pondering how society treats death and the death rites of various cultures, it makes us confront the reality of human condition and our own mortality.

This makes it sound too depressing and dark. It is, but some of it is very funny. Sure, Doughty’s sarcastic, jokey Valley girl style isn’t for everyone, but you can’t help but admire her ability to find hilarity amongst death.

Read: After eating, not before. Also to get you thinking about death in a positive way.

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