Smoke Gets in Your Eyes by Caitlin Doughty

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes

Caitlin Doughty

nonfiction Memoir Science
funny informative medium-paced

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A girl always remembers the first corpse she shaves. It is the only event in her life more awkward than her first kiss or losing her virginity. The hands of time will never move quite so slowly as when you are standing over the dead body of an elderly man with a pink plastic razor in your hand.

From her very first day at Westwind Cremation & Burial, twenty-three-year-old Caitlin Doughty threw herself into the gruesome daily tasks of her curious new profession. From caring for bodies of all shapes and sizes, picking up corpses from the hospital morgue, sweeping ashes from the cremation machines (sometimes onto her clothes) and learning to deal with mourning families, Caitlin comes face to face with the very thing we go to great lengths to avoid thinking about - death.

But as she started to wonder about the lives of those she cremated, and found herself confounded by people's erratic reactions to death, Caitlin's feelings began to evolve in unexpected ways. Now a licensed mortician, Caitlin tells the story of her fumbling apprenticeship with the dead. Exploring our death rituals - and those of other cultures - she pleads the case for healthier attitudes around death and dying. Full of bizarre encounters, gallows humour and vivid characters (both living and very dead), this eye-opening account makes this otherwise terrifying subject urgent and fascinating.

What the community thinks

summary of 32 ratings (see reviews)

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Death (1 reviewer) and Suicidal thoughts (1 reviewer)


informative 89%
funny 68%
reflective 68%
lighthearted 36%
emotional 26%
hopeful 21%
dark 15%
inspiring 15%
challenging 5%
sad 5%


medium 61%
fast 22%
slow 16%

Average rating


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