Book review: Smoke Gets In Your Eyes: And Other Lessons From The Crematorium

Caitlin Doughty Canongate,€20.55; ebook, €13.64

Cremating a baby’s corpse doesn’t take long if you have perfected the ‘toss’ into the furnace. Be warned: Caitlin Doughty’s book is full of brutal and frank details about death and its modern rituals. This witty mortician’s memoir is morbid and sharply observed, but death lurks behind everything.

Doughty’s aim is to revolutionise how society thinks about dying. “We are all just future corpses,” she says, asking us to face the fact. The ‘death industry’ is obsessed with denial, ignoring that we will rot and decay: she is aghast at ordering a cremation over the internet (with the ashes posted out weeks later). It’s an unhealthy relationship with where we’ll all end up. Doughty edges the reader from revulsion to acceptance of mortality, although the sympathy for cannibalism may be too much for some. Doughty exhaustively provides a philosophically punchier update to Jessica Mitford’s The American Way Of Death. It is a brave book for brave readers and it may change your death.


Food news with Joe McNameeThe Menu: Upcoming food highlights

THE health properties of tea have long been advertised. “It maketh the body active and lusty” a 1660 promotion suggested. However, before you dunk your teabag into a mug of steaming water, spare a thought for the environment. Some have polypropylene to help to seal them and it doesn’t decompose.Storm in a teacup: Top 8 loose-leaf teas

Bestselling author Isabel Allende talks to Rowena Walsh about life, grief, and why it’s never too late to fall in loveIsabel Allende: It's never too late to fall in love

Cliffs of Moher Retreat owner Michelle Moroney has written a book on finding self-worth and stepping back from our 24/7 lives. She talks to Marjorie Brennan about the need to unwindMichelle Moroney highlights the need to take stock of our lives

More From The Irish Examiner