Smoke Gets in Your Eyes by Caitlin Doughty (272 p.)
Read November 4 - December 19
Well, well, well. Note to self: don't give up on a book just because the first twelve pages are not to your taste. That is almost what happened to me with Smoke Gets in Your Eyes. Well, not exactly, I almost never give a book up completely even if I hate it, but I did put this one on hold for a couple of weeks.
This book discusses death, and mostly the death industry - funeral homes, cremation, burials. It's a book about grief, about death denial and acceptance, about losing loved ones and about understanding that one day, none of us will be here. In about 200 years, none of the seven billion people living on earth right this minute, won't be here (unless we all become robots by then). Doughty uses a lot of popular cultural references that I could take or leave, but when she describes how the Wari-tribe deal with their dead, or talks about medieval witch burnings and how they may or may not have sacrificed children to the devil, or when she discusses H. C. Andersen's The Little Mermaid, one of my personal favorite children's tales, I'm all ears.
Doughty has a way of writing that is easy enough to understand, and actually very interesting once she starts to talk about facts, history, different cultures/religions or anything else that is, well, not about herself. And I also didn't find her writing that funny, even though a lot of the praise about this book is just that, how funny it is. I was definitely more impressed with how this book is very educating, thoughtful and, sometimes, quite gruesome, on a topic that we seldom want to discuss.