Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory (Paperback)

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Staff Reviews

Death is pretty much the last thing any of us want to think, hear, or speak about, despite it being the background noise of our everyday lives. The fact is that death is inevitable - always has been, always will be. So why are we so afraid of it? In this book, Doughty shares her experiences in the death business, complete with horribly graphic descriptions, funny anecdotes, and insightful observations. She contends that in Western society, we’ve turned death into something to be ignored, sterilized, and relegated to the shadows. What if there was a better, more meaningful way to deal with death that actually involved peoples loved ones and dealt the dead the respect they deserve? From cultures who feed their dead to nature, to mortuary-cannibalistic cultures that eat the dead themselves, to fruit shrines and professional mourners, Doughty explores it all and brings us her measured opinions.

- Recommended by Megan

— From Staff Picks to Welcome You into Spring

A wonderful snapshot at a strange, tumultuous, and (and rather ashy) time of her life, this memoir was an absolute treat, despite the macabre nature. Doughty has a unique talent at bringing a relatable levity to her subject matter and does it better than anyone. Follow a young Caitlin, unsure of her place in an LA-based funeral home, as she regales you with the reasons why she started, and with the lessons learned there. Not just a book for those of us with a more morbid fascination, Smoke Gets in Your Eyes has a little something for everybody.


Check out the ebook and audiobook!

— From Sultry September Staff Picks


"Morbid and illuminating" (Entertainment Weekly)—a young mortician goes behind the scenes of her curious profession.

Armed with a degree in medieval history and a flair for the macabre, Caitlin Doughty took a job at a crematory and turned morbid curiosity into her life’s work. She cared for bodies of every color, shape, and affliction, and became an intrepid explorer in the world of the dead. In this best-selling memoir, brimming with gallows humor and vivid characters, she marvels at the gruesome history of undertaking and relates her unique coming-of-age story with bold curiosity and mordant wit. By turns hilarious, dark, and uplifting, Smoke Gets in Your Eyes reveals how the fear of dying warps our society and "will make you reconsider how our culture treats the dead" (San Francisco Chronicle).

About the Author

Caitlin Doughty is a mortician and the New York Times best-selling author of Smoke Gets in Your Eyes, From Here to Eternity, and Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs? She is the creator of the web series Ask a Mortician, and the founder of The Order of the Good Death. She lives in Los Angeles, California, where she owns a funeral home.

Praise For…

Demonically funny.
— O, The Oprah Magazine

Frank…philosophical…engaging, and even wicked.
— Natalie Kusz - New York Times Book Review

Upbeat, brave and brilliantly, morbidly curious…Her measure of society is fierce, right on, and radical…[A]n important and timely book.
— Helen Davies - Sunday Times

It may well blow your mind wide open.
— Elisabeth Donnelly - Flavorwire

Think Sloane Crosley meets Six Feet Under.

— Kevin Nguyen - Grantland

In a moving—and often funny—memoir about working in a crematorium and other parts of the ‘death industry,’ Caitlin Doughty argues for radical change in how we face the details of death.
— Jessica Ferri - Daily Beast

Demonically funny dispatches.
— O Magazine

Doughty…a trustworthy tour guide…keeps us laughing most of the way.
— Rachel Lubitz - Washington Post

Alternately heartbreaking and hilarious, fascinating and freaky, vivid and morbid, Smoke Gets in Your Eyes is witty, sharply drawn, and deeply moving. Like a poisonous cocktail, Caitlin Doughty’s memoir intoxicates and enchants even as it encourages you to embrace oblivion; she breathes life into death.

— Dodai Stewart, deputy editor of

Caitlin Doughty takes you to places you didn’t know you wanted to go. Fascinating, funny, and so very necessary, Smoke Gets in Your Eyes reveals exactly what’s wrong with modern death denial.

— Bess Lovejoy, author of Rest in Pieces: The Curious Fates of Famous Corpses

This book absolutely must be read, if only to remind all of us that exercise, organic food, and plastic surgery only work up to a point. Doughty is my kind of death crusader—compassionate, unblinking, and very, very funny.
— Meg Rosoff
Product Details
ISBN: 9780393351903
ISBN-10: 0393351904
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
Publication Date: September 28th, 2015
Pages: 272
Language: English