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From Here to Eternity

Caitlin Doughty

3 Reviews

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Memoirs, Sociology: death & dying, Travel writing

An eye-opening, entertaining and thought-provoking account of a mortician's journey around the world to discover how other cultures care for their dead

As a practising mortician, Caitlin Doughty has long been fascinated by our pervasive terror of dead bodies. In From Here to Eternity she sets out in search of cultures unburdened by such fears. In rural Indonesia, she observes a man clean and dress his grandfather's mummified body. She meets Bolivian natitas (cigarette-smoking, wish-granting human skulls), and introduces us to the Japanese ritual of kotsuage, in which relatives use chopsticks to pluck their loved-ones' bones from cremation ashes.

With curiosity and morbid humour, Doughty introduces us to inspiring death-care innovators, participates in powerful death practices almost entirely unknown in the West and explores new spaces for mourning - including a futuristic glowing-Buddha columbarium in Japan, a candlelit Mexican cemetery, and America's only open-air pyre. In doing so she expands our sense of what it means to treat the dead with 'dignity' and reveals unexpected possibilities for our own death rituals.

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Praise for From Here to Eternity

  • Zingy, fresh and important . . . This book might change your life - Evening Standard on Smoke Gets in Your Eyes

  • Upbeat, brave and brilliantly, morbidly curious . . . Important and timely - The Sunday Times on Smoke Gets in Your Eyes

  • A hilarious, poignant and impassioned plea to revolutionise our attitudes to death - Guardian on Smoke Gets in Your Eyes

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