So with my enjoyment of the Youtube channel Ask A Mortician, I picked up her first book – Smoke Gets in Your Eyes by Caitlin Doughty. It is definitely not a book for the squeamish, though this book is not massively graphic. This memoir documents Caitlin’s journey from childhood all the way to her finding her calling as Ask the Mortician and the Order of the Good Death.
She has an amazing talent with gallows humour and is able to tell stories with vivid characters. You really do journey with her, learn with her and feel with her as Caitlin recounts some truly human moments. There is a feeling like you are now so much more intimate a friend with her after this book, and I love that.
This book specifically deals with how death and the funeral industry is run in California. She deals with all sorts of questions in regards to fears, to the process, and options available. Keep in mind a portion of this story is based in a crematory.
This is the person who has led me to consider how do we treat our dead and how do I want my remains to be treated. She asks and tries to give answers to fundamental questions of the why, how, where, who, and what will be done. What are our options? How can we think about things differently? How can we be prepared for these moments?
I would totally recommend this book and just as strongly her youTube channelHERE. Questions of mortality and how our culture, and other cultures deal with this is so important. Zander and I have even watched videos together and discussed them. Caitlin has a real flair with being sensitive and compassionate even with her humour and laughter.
The Lost Daughter by Mary Williams is a touching autobiography of a woman who survived an exceptionally difficult childhood moving into her teen years a lost and later abused woman… that is until she is accepted into the loving and supportive family of Jane Fonda. Mary is proof that a childhood of hardship and pain does not have to lead to a lifetime of loss.
Born the 5th daughter to two members of the Black Panther association Mary was a forgotten child in a home of poverty. A world traveler Mary took her move to the Fonda’s home in stride and accepted, for the most part, their support and love. There are ups and downs and sadness and joy. There are two sides to each coin and with leaving her family to join a new one there were losses and benefits.
What I loved about this book is as you read it it is like Mary is sitting right there telling you the story. In a twist of fate Mary is offered the opportunity of a lifetime, leave the oppressive poverty stricken family with a matriarch who has simply given up and an absentee father and join the actress and her family that she met by chance at a series of summers at camp. What is amazing is this book goes full circle, not only does Mary escape the clutches of a cycle of abuse, poverty and crime but she DOES return to mend a few bridges, as delicate as that mending is.
Mary Williams has more adventures than many people would in multiple lifetimes, she spends time in different areas across the globe with her eyes wide open. We are given brief glances into Jane Fonda’s life during this time, through two marriages and her relationships with her children. The road is far from smooth but our adventures with this strong and amazing woman are page turners. I found myself unable to put the book down.
She does not simply degrade her past and see only the negatives, we experience the joy with the tribulation, the questioning with the answers. We walk along this woman’s life and truly get a feel of who she is and what she was and who she could become! This is the perfect book for quiet contemplation, a bit of a giggle at times, connecting with an adventurous soul.
This book touches on the Panther movement, the fall out (in a small part) of being a part of the anti-Vietnam rallies, rape (not graphic), drugs, alcohol abuse but also being a part of a family, travelling the world, helping others, enjoying the outdoors and simply finding your way in a world full of options and choices. The Lost Daughter is full of emotion and written to draw you in. When it comes out in April I would absolutely suggest getting a copy, freeing up all the reading time you can and immerse yourself in Mary William’s life.