cover image From Here to Eternity: Traveling the World to Find a Good Death

From Here to Eternity: Traveling the World to Find a Good Death

Caitlin Doughty. Norton, $24.95 trade paper (244p) ISBN 978-0-39324-989-7

Mortician Doughty (Smoke Gets in Your Eyes) catalogues rituals and cultural practices surrounding death from all over the world in this fantastic memoir, which is intended to “help us reclaim meaning and tradition in our own community.” Doughty, a mortician who doesn’t abide by typical American funeral protocols of embalming quickly and upselling products, relates practices—glass display cases in funeral homes in Barcelona, natural (casket-free) burials in Los Angeles, a mummified family member hanging out in an Indonesian living room for years before being buried— that will inspire readers to reconsider familiar rituals surrounding death. Doughty also explores the increasing corporatization of death and the growing popularity (and carbon footprint) of cremation. With humor and snappy descriptions, she also gleefully punches holes in Western misconceptions and prejudices concerning death rituals in other countries, as when a travel guide snubbed as a “ghoulish spectacle” the intricate, beautiful bamboo cages used in Bali for decomposition. Doughty’s skillful book will encourage debate on philosophical and moral preferences for posthumous care. [em]Agent: Anna Sproul-Latimer, Ross Yoon. (Oct.) [/em]