Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory by Caitlin Doughty

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

By Caitlin Doughty

  • Release Date: 2014-09-15
  • Genre: Biographies & Memoirs
Score: 4.5
From 232 Ratings
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“Morbid and illuminating” (Entertainment Weekly)—a young mortician goes behind the scenes of her curious profession.
Most people want to avoid thinking about death, but Caitlin Doughty—a twenty-something with a degree in medieval history and a flair for the macabre—took a job at a crematory, turning morbid curiosity into her life’s work. Thrown into a profession of gallows humor and vivid characters (both living and very dead), Caitlin learned to navigate the secretive culture of those who care for the deceased.
Smoke Gets in Your Eyes tells an unusual coming-of-age story full of bizarre encounters and unforgettable scenes. Caring for dead bodies of every color, shape, and affliction, Caitlin soon becomes an intrepid explorer in the world of the dead. She describes how she swept ashes from the machines (and sometimes onto her clothes) and reveals the strange history of cremation and undertaking, marveling at bizarre and wonderful funeral practices from different cultures.

Her eye-opening, candid, and often hilarious story is like going on a journey with your bravest friend to the cemetery at midnight. She demystifies death, leading us behind the black curtain of her unique profession. And she answers questions you didn’t know you had: Can you catch a disease from a corpse? How many dead bodies can you fit in a Dodge van? What exactly does a flaming skull look like?

Honest and heartfelt, self-deprecating and ironic, Caitlin's engaging style makes this otherwise taboo topic both approachable and engrossing. Now a licensed mortician with an alternative funeral practice, Caitlin argues that our fear of dying warps our culture and society, and she calls for better ways of dealing with death (and our dead).


  • Intriguing

    By Jared7891362589
    This book confirms all of my thoughts about what a crematorium is like. I have always been curious about death as expressed by questioning my Mom in the medical field. Should I be a chemistry major or is death the field I want to lay in for the rest of my life? You did a great job with this book! Thanks for your contributions to the death community. I look forward to your YouTube videos.
  • Excellent read!

    By Aldhissla
    Very well written and easy to follow. This book explains details of the American death industry and provides not only insight into it. This book raises many questions for the reader and challenges them to think about how we deal with death.
  • A must read.

    By LOrands
    This book has been in my amazon wishlist since its release. I finally took the plunge and bought it and was not disappointed. I found myself deeply moved, often laughing out loud, and ending the book with a different view on death than I had when I first started reading. I could not put it down and will always recommend to friends and family that they read this as well.
  • Absolutely perfect.

    By NurseAllen
    Long a fan of Mistress of the Macabre, I finally sat down and finished this book in one day after I had the time to do so after nursing school. God, I love Ask A Mortician and everything Ms. Doughty does! Definitely people should give this book a chance.
  • Completely perfect! Everything I wanted it to be

    By Captainmollie
    I was entirely surprised by how amazing this book was! I am extremely interested in the death industry and this gave me the insight that I wanted so much! I finished it in s few hours and I want more. The way Caitlin spoke and worded her story reached me on such a personal level. Loved it!
  • Review by D. Scott

    By DutchessRai
    Review of "When smoke gets in your eyes..." An excellent book, very serious, but sometimes unexpectedly (and when you need it the most) humorous. Thanks Caitlin for turning on a bright like in the dark room of death. Fearlessly, you give others courage to face the inevitable with more understanding of the process at life's end ... And the choices we all should consider and make ... Before someone else has to. Thanks again for writing a great book. Donna
  • Brilliant book

    By IBTerri
    Caitlin did a wonderful job bringing the topic of dying and death out in the open in a positive manner. She gave insight to what goes on at the morticians office and offered alternatives to embalming and casket burials that many of us never considered. I'm glad I read her book and hope many others do as well.
  • I am so sad....

    By MeegaMeega
    I was so sad when I finished this book...sad that it was longer! Longer like a novel or maybe a trilogy. It was such an interesting read that I read it in less than a day. I didn't know what to expect with the title, but when I started reading it, I couldn't put it down. It was so interesting to hear the stories she experienced at the crematorium and the factual information that was added to each story to give, me the reader, a different insight on how we feel about death, embalming and cremations. The reader was upfront and honest, didn't try to embellish the situation, but actually told her many experiences that she witnessed in full unadulterated form. She also included tons of historic information pertaining to many different aspects of death that I had no idea existed. This was not only a very interesting read but also gave me a whole other view on the subject of death and what we make of it. She made it into something that I had never analyzed in such a way before.
  • Smoke Gets in Your Eyes

    By Dan FG
    This was a terrific book Caitlin. Well written, witty, and serious all at the same time. My own grandparents spent their adult lives as Funeral Home operators in the Midwest, starting in the early part of the century. I was always struck at how they were willing to accept tools, chickens, and other personal treasures in lieu of money to pay for funerals. Perhaps even they saw the wrong in the way of the new age funeral industry. You have captured this humanity both in this book and in your professional life today. This was a wonderful read. Thank you. Dan Fox-Gliessman
  • Amazing and thought provoking read.

    By Mcrosb2
    Very interesting book and very well written. Keeps you interested, and also really makes you think about life in general. 5 stars.