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THE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER 'Unforgettable . . . a hilarious, poignant and impassioned plea to revolutionise our attitudes to death' Gavin Francis, Guardian From her first day at Westwind Cremation & Burial, twenty-three-year-old Caitlin Doughty threw herself into her curious new profession. Coming face-to-face with the very thing we go to great lengths to avoid thinking about she started to wonder about the lives of those she cremated and the mourning families they left behind, and found herself confounded by people's erratic reactions to death. Exploring our death rituals - and those of other cultures - she pleads the case for healthier attitudes around death and dying. Full of bizarre encounters, gallows humour and vivid characters (both living and very dead), this illuminating account makes this otherwise terrifying subject inviting and fascinating.
Monuments and memorials commemorating the dead and past events around the world have recently gained importance, not least because we are living in an era in which many are driven to record and archive the events of their lives. Cemeteries, in particular, are increasingly viewed as places associated with popular culture and cultural memory, with many now being considered as heritage tourism sites. Culture, Celebrity, and the Cemetery analyses the famous Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Los Angeles, USA, examining how the cemetery presents itself as an attraction, whilst also safeguarding and promoting cultural heritage. Focusing on an analysis of the articulation and performance of commemoration, Levitt examines how the cemetery leverages its rich resources to draw visitors and the diverse ways in which visitors interact with the cemetery, considering the influence of celebrity culture, fandoms, and cinema culture. Combining ethnographic research with cultural analysis, the book situates Hollywood Forever in the context of cemetery development in the United States and argues that touristic visits to cemeteries more generally have become similar to visits to more traditional memorials. Providing more than just a critical analysis of this fascinating cemetery as a landscape of famous death, Levitt coherently weaves the theme of cultural memory and meaning-making throughout every chapter. Offering the first book-length study of the cultural impact of Hollywood Forever in particular, and the cemetery as public heritage space in general, Culture, Celebrity, and the Cemetery will be of interest to scholars and students of heritage studies and tourism around the world.
Is it still possible to fake your own death in the twenty-first century? With six figures of student loan debt, Elizabeth Greenwood was tempted to find out. So off she sets on a darkly comic foray into the world of death fraud, where for $30,000 a consultant can make you disappear--but your suspicious insurance company might hire a private detective to dig up your coffin...only to find it filled with rocks. Greenwood tracks down a British man who staged a kayaking accident and then returned to live in his own house while all his neighbors thought he was dead. She takes a call from Michael Jackson (no, he's not dead--or so her new acquaintances would have her believe), stalks message boards for people contemplating pseudocide, and gathers intel on black market morgues in the Philippines, where she may or may not obtain some fraudulent goodies of her own. Along the way, she learns that love is a much less common motive than money, and that making your death look like a drowning virtually guarantees that you'll be caught. (Disappearing while hiking, however, is a way great to go.) Playing Dead is a charmingly bizarre investigation in the vein of Jon Ronson and Mary Roach into our all-too-human desire to escape from the lives we lead, and the men and women desperate enough to give up their lives--and their families--to start again. "Delivers all the lo-fi spy shenanigans and caught-red-handed schadenfreude you're hoping for." --NPR "A lively romp." --The Boston Globe "Grim fun." --The New York Times "Brilliant topic, absorbing book." --The Seattle Times "The most literally escapist summer read you could hope for." --The Paris Review
Every day, funeral director Caitlin Doughty receives dozens of questions about death. What would happen to an astronaut's body if it were pushed out of a space shuttle? Do people poo when they die? Can Grandma have a Viking funeral? In the tradition of Randall Munroe's WHAT IF?, Doughty's new book blends her scientific understanding of the body and the intriguing history behind common misconceptions about corpses to offer factual, hilarious and candid answers to more than fifty urgent questions posed by her youngest fans. Readers will learn what happens if you die on an aeroplane, the best soil for mummifying your dog and whether or not you can preserve your friend's skull as a keepsake. Featuring illustrations from Dianné Ruiz, WILL MY CAT EAT MY EYEBALLS? will delight anyone interested in the fascinating truth about what will happen to our bodies after we die.

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