Good morning deathlings, she says (types) in her best Caitlin Doughty voice, and welcome to another review.
Back in 2016 I found myself reading Doughty’s informative and funny recount of become a mortician in Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory, and ever since then I have been wondering when Doughty was going to enlighten the death positive through text next.
What did I think of From Here to Eternity: Traveling the World to Find the Good Death? Keep on reading to find out my thoughts and opinions.
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From Here to Eternity: Traveling the World to Find the Good Death by Caitlin Doughty
Publisher: W.W. Norton & Company (October 3, 2017)
Print Length: 248 pages
Audiobook Length: 5 hrs and 37 mins
Narrator: Caitlin Doughty
Fascinated by our pervasive terror of dead bodies, mortician Caitlin Doughty set out to discover how other cultures care for their dead. In rural Indonesia, she observes a man clean and dress his grandfather’s mummified body. Grandpa’s mummy has lived in the family home for two years, where the family has maintained a warm and respectful relationship. She meets Bolivian natitas (cigarette-smoking, wish-granting human skulls), and introduces us to a Japanese kotsuage, in which relatives use chopsticks to pluck their loved-ones’ bones from cremation ashes.
With curiosity and morbid humor, Doughty encounters vividly decomposed bodies and participates in compelling, powerful death practices almost entirely unknown in America. Featuring Gorey-esque illustrations by artist Landis Blair, From Here to Eternity introduces death-care innovators researching green burial and body composting, explores new spaces for mourning—including a glowing-Buddha columbarium in Japan and America’s only open-air pyre—and reveals unexpected new possibilities for our own death rituals.
From Here to Eternity: Traveling the World to Find the Good Death is another hysterical home run for Doughty’s death positive movement.
From Here to Eternity: Traveling the World to Find the Good Death is Caitilin Doughty’s travelogue recounting her search to find out how other societies care for their recently, or not so recently deceased, and how we can learn from and incorporate the care they show the dead here in North America.
From a funeral pyre in Colorado, to the ‘wish-granting’ human skulls located in Bolivia, Doughty leaves no stone unturned in her mission to find and report on the good death and it was fascinating to see which death rituals Doughty chose to include, as some were rather tame to what I was expecting. Besides the subject matter, Doughty’s writing has really progressed since Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory, and I could definitely see more of her personality shine through her words. That or I have watched too many of her YouTube videos, her channel is ‘Ask a Mortician’, and am able to put more of her nuance and inflection to the jokes on the page.
Out of all of the practices explored in From Here to Eternity: Traveling the World to Find the Good Death the one that captivated my attention the most was that of the glowing Buddhas in Japan. The fact that they are so ahead in terms of conserving space while also applying technology was morbidly hilarious to me. Another point of Doughty’s I appreciated reading about was her view on North America’s corporatization of death. Being in the industry in which she is criticizing, I find it incredibly brave of Doughty to accept her potential ostracisation in favour of giving us the knowledge about death and our rights in regards to the dead.
Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.
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And those are my thoughts on From Here to Eternity: Traveling the World to Find the Good Death by Caitlin Doughty. Have any ghoulish non-fiction recommendations? Leave your recommendation below and help my TBR grow.