From Here to Eternity
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From Here to Eternity : Travelling the World to Find the Good Death

4.26 (5,459 ratings by Goodreads)
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Description

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 discovers 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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Product details

  • Paperback | 272 pages
  • 155 x 235 x 21mm | 340g
  • WEIDENFELD & NICOLSON
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 1474606520
  • 9781474606523
  • 40,052

Review quote

[Doughty's] fascinating tour of rituals contains liturgies that readers will surely observe as rare, macabre, unbelievable, ancient, and precious - sometimes simultaneously * KIRKUS * Far from morbid, but moving * WOMAN'S WAY * Written with great humour and respect, this book will undoubtedly educate, entertain, and leave you dying to learn more * GEOGRAPHICAL * Moving and inspiring * BELFAST TELEGRAPH * A study in cultures, places and profound moments - and with a necessary slice of morbid humour too * WANDERLUST * 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 * 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 * Doughty finds the humanity in other cultures' relationship with death that seems to be lacking in ours * VICE * 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 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 * 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'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 * 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 * Compelling . . . Doughty's writing will give you the giggles as well as send a chill down your spine * GUARDIAN * 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 * 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 *
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About Caitlin Doughty

Caitlin Doughty was born and raised in Hawaii before gaining a degree in Medieval History from the University of Chicago. She currently lives in Los Angeles where she owns an alternative funeral home, Undertaking LA. She is the creator of the 'Ask a Mortician' web series, the founder of the death acceptance collective The Order of the Good Death and co-founder of Death Salon. She is also the author of the New York Times bestselling memoir Smoke Gets in Your Eyes.
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Rating details

5,459 ratings
4.26 out of 5 stars
5 46% (2,508)
4 39% (2,121)
3 12% (669)
2 2% (106)
1 1% (55)
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