So I just finished Smoke Gets In Your Eyes by Caitlin Doughty and this is not the first book I was expecting to review for this blog. I currently have multiple books and shows going, which is unusual for me,I never know what I will finish first but I thought my first review wouldn’t be on such a hard topic.
Smoke Gets In Your Eyes is part memoir, part death history, and part discussion of the death industry in the United States. Caitlin is candied about the truth of how many American experience death and know very little about the death industry while at the same time injecting a very morbid sense of humor that allows the reader to be more comfortable with the topic. Caitlin runs a funeral home in California called Undertaking LA and a YouTube channel called Ask a Mortician.She is also the founder of the Order of the Good Death.
This book is hard to discuss because I really don’t know what to say given the subject, as it can sound weird that you like a book about death. In some ways as a historian that specializes in public history (museum, memorials, historical sites etc) I feel like I’m more comfortable with the idea of death than some people. As many of these sites deal with war, tragedies, and history that is taught involves people that are dead.Smoke Gets In Your Eyes pulls back the curtain in the death industry and gives a glimpse into how the modern western world handles the dead. No matter how much of a history buff you are historians write and research about events and people but most books still wouldn’t discuss in detail how the dead are treated and handled.
I biggest take away I have is that everything we do as humans is because one day we will died and the real question is what is a good death to you. What is it that you would want to happen to your body and possession when your gone. And are the major conversations that you need to have with family or friends about your future plans and possibly theirs. I know as a millennial we often have pretty morbid sense humor which I get as many days it seems like the wold is about to go up in flames or is already on fire depending on your prospective. However, I think most of us don’t want to die today or anytime soon. Planing for the inevitable future is not a bad thing and there is so much you can do with your body or remains if you want to, for example being shot into space.
Smoke Gets In Your Eyes is a powerful book about death and the death industry. Thought not for the faint of heart Caitlin Doughty does intersperse these harder topics and slightly graphic descriptions with her morbid since of humor. I would recommend this book to all those wanting to know about the death industry and those who have seen her on YouTube.