Smoke Gets In Your Eyes
with Caitlin Doughty
Wednesday, September 30, 7:00PM
Bookshop Santa Cruz, 1520 Pacific Avenue, Santa Cruz
Our staff loves Caitlin Doughty’s manifesto for death acceptance, and we are delighted to welcome the author here on her paperback tour of Smoke Gets in Your Eyes. Her mission is to convince the world that a preoccupation with the macabre isn’t a red flag but a healthy way of coming to terms with mortality and alleviating anxiety - plus she’s smart, funny, and charming, too.
Most people want to avoid thinking about death, but Caitlin Doughty - a twenty-something with a degree in medieval history and an obsession with 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. 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).
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. Honest and heartfelt, self-deprecating and ironic, Caitlin's engaging style makes this otherwise taboo topic both approachable and engrossing.
Caitlin Doughty is a Los Angeles-based mortician, death theorist, and the founder of The Order of the Good Death - a community group of funeral industry professionals, academics, and artists exploring ways to prepare a death-phobic culture for their inevitable mortality, with the goal of bringing the realistic discussion of death back into popular culture. She is a licensed funeral director and her alternative funeral home, Undertaking LA, to help people help themselves (handle a corpse). Her webseries Ask a Mortician and the Order website have led to features on NPR, BBC, the Huffington Post, Vice, the LA Times, Jezebel.com, Forbes, Bust Magazine, and Salon. She frequently gives talks on the history of death culture, rituals, and the funeral industry, presenting for groups as diverse as the Center for Inquiry, SXSW, Dan Savage’s Live Lovecast, Upright Citizen’s Brigade, and the Ontario Coroner’s Association.