Title: Smoke Gets in Your Eyes and Other Lessons from the Crematory
Author: Caitlin Doughty
2014 – Nonfiction – Memoir
The Premise: Caitlin Doughty is your typical twenty-something. Or is she? A Bachelor’s Degree in Medieval History and a fascination with death led Caitlin to working in the trenches…in a crematory. Everything she thought she knew about the industry of death was turned upside down as she learned the ins and outs of the trade. Now a licensed mortician with a look reminiscent of Wednesday Addams, Caitlin is sharing what she knows in her new and fascinating memoir about the reality of death.
The Opening Line: According to a journalist’s eyewitness account, Mata Hari, the famous exotic dancer turned World War I spy, refused to wear a blindfold when she was executed by a French firing squad in 1917.
What I Loved: So even though I’m a scaredy-cat of the highest degree, I have a small fascination with death. Not to Caitlin’s degree of course – no mortician school for me. Luckily, Smoke Gets in Your Eyes wasn’t at all scary – but it was funny, thoughtful, educational, and sincere. Her almost irreverent tone wasn’t disrespectful at any time, but approached the subject of death head-on without the usual American denial. The book made me think a lot about the current state of the death industry in America today and what I would want come my time to die.
What I Didn’t Love: The only thing I disliked was that the book was too short. More, please!
Final Thoughts: I think this may be one of my favorite books of the year. I love the types of industry memoirs that explain all the secrets of different career fields, but this one is top-notch. Not only did she achieve her objective of writing about the funeral industry, but she did it well. I learned so many things that hadn’t even crossed my mind before. This is a book I’ll be talking about and recommending for a long time.