From Here to Eternity
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. 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.
Each chapter covers a culture with a highly distinctive and apparently ghastly approach to their dearly departed . . . Think Bill Bryson doing an underworld special. This humane book gently provokes you to wonder: what exactly is your ideal funeral? * THE TIMES * Caitlin Doughty, joyful member of the death-positive movement, describes what happens to our mortal remains with relish . . . Jaunty, boisterous and unsentimental, Doughty believes that we in the West have made death and its aftermath into a corporate, perfunctory affair, in which the meaning of an ending is denied. Her mission is to ‘reclaim public understanding of dying’ and to bring individuality and joy back into our dealings with the dead — Nicci Gerard * OBSERVER * Compelling . . . Doughty’s writing will give you the giggles as well as send a chill down your spine * GUARDIAN * From Here To Eternity is fascinating, thought-provoking and – who would have guessed? – sometimes funny. Put it on your bucket list — Neil Armstrong * MAIL ON SUNDAY * Doughty’s lively (and charmingly illustrated) cascade of anecdotes about how various cultures handle death spells out how contemporary Western fastidiousness about dead bodies is by no means universally shared. We are introduced to a variety of startling practices . . . and pervading the book is Doughty’s ferocious critique of the industrialisation of death and burial that is standard in the United States and spreading rapidly elsewhere. Doughty invites us to look at and contemplate alternatives . . . we have choices beyond the conventional; we can think about how we want our dead bodies to be treated as part of a natural physical cycle — Rowan Williams * NEW STATESMAN * Doughty is fun, with an eye for the bizarre and the absurd. She hits the road in quest of cultures untroubled by the western taboos surrounding mortality — Robert McCrum * SPECTATOR * Doughty is a relentlessly curious and chipper tour guide to the underworld . . . a likable, witty companion. It is a difficult high-wire act: to make death interesting and funny enough that we’ll drop our fears and read, without losing sight of the gravity of the topic. I couldn’t help thinking that her dispatches from the dark side were doing us all a kindness * NEW YORK TIMES * From Here to Eternity is Doughty’s tour of the death ways of other peoples, from Bolivia to Barcelona . . . [she] chronicles each of these practices with tenderheartedness, a technician’s fascination, and an unsentimental respect for grief * THE NEW YORKER * Doughty finds the humanity in other cultures’ relationship with death that seems to be lacking in ours * VICE * From Indonesia to Mexico and all points in between, Doughty talks to a wide array of professionals, handling the topic with curiosity, frankness and no small amount of humour — Doug Johnstone * THE BIG ISSUE * In her jocular but reverential tone . . . Doughty doesn’t offer a simple morbid travelogue; instead, she digs into diverse death experiences with deep veneration and examines ties to socioeconomic, status, female identity and religion * BOOKLIST * A study in cultures, places and profound moments – and with a necessary slice of morbid humour too * WANDERLUST * Moving and inspiring * BELFAST TELEGRAPH * Written with great humour and respect, this book will undoubtedly educate, entertain, and leave you dying to learn more * GEOGRAPHICAL * Far from morbid, but moving * WOMAN’S WAY * [Doughty’s] fascinating tour of rituals contains liturgies that readers will surely observe as rare, macabre, unbelievable, ancient, and precious – sometimes simultaneously * KIRKUS * Both sensitive and light, and thoroughly researched, written by an author who genuinely wanted to learn from, not fetishise, other customs * GUARDIAN *
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