If you’re a fan of macabre content on Youtube, you’ve probably already come across Caitlin Doughty and her popular web series “Ask a Mortician.” In her videos, Caitlin combines absurd, witty humor with professional insight to answer viewers’ questions about death. Apart from being a Youtube star, Caitlin has also founded an organization called The Order of the Good Death, which aims to dismantle the cultural taboos we’ve built up around talking about the fate that awaits us all. In 2015, she published her first book—a memoir called Smoke Get in Your Eyes and Other Lessons from the Crematory. You can read my glowing review of that book here. Now her highly anticipated second book has finally arrived, and it’s every bit as good as the first! From Here to Eternity: Traveling the World to Find the Good Death hits shelves tomorrow, October 3. You can also check Caitlin’s website to see if she’s doing any signings at the bookstores or cemeteries in your area. Continue reading Review of From Here to Eternity—Death Around the World
Death—It’s at the center of both Gothic literature (as one of the primal fears driving the atmosphere of dread) and the gothic subculture (as inspiration for its music, art, fashion, and overall aesthetic). But outside of the goth world, death can be a difficult topic to broach. Death and dying are taboo, especially in American society, and no one seems to want to talk about the one fate that awaits us all. That’s why Kimberly Mead created the game Morbid Curiosity to get everyone talking about death.
Death is a strange chapter in everyone’s story. Yet as we read through action-packed novels like the Game of Thrones series where a character dies almost every chapter, literary deaths may start to seem commonplace and we give little thought to how they are presented. For gothic authors, however, a character’s death is an opportunity to explore that fascinating, unknowable state and our relationship with it. What does it mean to be dead? How will this death impact the story? And how should we feel about it? Sometimes the only way to answer these questions is by employing some truly unique literary techniques. Below are three of my favorite unusual depictions of death in literature: Continue reading Literature’s Strangest Chapters on Death
Who says love poems need to be all rainbows and sunshine? Sometimes death and decay can be just as romantic. If you’re tired of sappy hallmark cards and sickly sweet phrases written on candy, consider sharing some of these creepy classics with your loved ones.
Last week, I got to hear author and revolutionary mortician Caitlin Doughty speak at the Strand as she promoted the paperback release of her New York Times best-selling memoir, Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons From the Crematory. My review of Smoke was one of my very first blog posts here on this site back in July, and I’ve been a huge fan of Caitlin for several years. Needless to say, I was delighted to have the opportunity to finally meet her and get my advanced reader’s copy of the book signed. But before she signed any books, Caitlin addressed the modest crowd that was gathered in the Strand’s rare books floor to discuss her work in the death industry and answer any questions we might have about our own mortality. Her talk was both fun and informative, as you might expect from an alternative mortician-cum-Youtube star, and I’ve written up some of the highlights to share with you below: Continue reading Death-tastic Book Signing with Caitlin Doughty
One of the things that makes goths special is that we are not afraid to look death in the face. We take special delight in exploring taboos, especially the taboo of death. The entire aesthetic of the gothic subculture reflects a time when people interacted heavily with death—specifically the Victorian era, with its elaborate mourning customs and associated wardrobe, art, and accoutrements. Unfortunately, much of mainstream American culture does not share our morbid proclivities. In fact, Americans seem to have become obsessed with shielding themselves as completely as possible from death and dying. We relegate death to the sanitized rooms of hospitals and allow funeral workers to whisk our loved ones away as soon as possible to be prepared for cremation or burial by total strangers. Did you know you can even order a cremation online and have your loved one picked up, cremated, and mailed back to you in an urn without ever interacting with a single human being or having to face any visual reminders of death?