The gloss of the Western funeral industry stands as the perpetual nemesis of New York Times bestselling author, Caitlin Doughty. Doughty has made it her mission to enlighten us on the alternative death practices discovered through her research on how the wider world copes with mourning and caring for the deceased. From a community funeral pyre in Colorado to the Ma'nene of Toraja, Indonesia, Caitlin takes us on a humorous exploration of the world in search of the good death.
Recommended by Jonathan Prunty, Dubray Bray
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 introduces us to 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.