Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs? And Other Questions About Dead Bodies

by Caitlin Doughty | Nonfiction |
ISBN: 9780393358490 Global Overview for this book
Registered by wingGoryDetailswing of Nashua, New Hampshire USA on 2/6/2024
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3 journalers for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by wingGoryDetailswing from Nashua, New Hampshire USA on Tuesday, February 6, 2024
I got this softcover at a local Barnes and Noble, for another release copy.

The concept: a mortician replies to questions from kids! It's by the author of Smoke Gets In Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory and From Here to Eternity: Traveling the World to Find the Good Death. (She also has a YouTube channel, Ask a Mortician, with lots of informative and entertaining videos.)

The book's great fun! Yes, many of the questions are grisly and/or morbid (that is kind of the point, after all) but the author answers them with a delightful mix of humor, accuracy, and clarity that I adored. And the illustrations by Dianné Ruz are fabulous - stylized line-drawings usually featuring Death's-heads or skeletons along with the human victims of the particular topic. They're macabre and rather cute at the same time, and in a style I've never seen before - great fun!

From the dedication, "To future corpses of all ages," it's clear that Doughty isn't going to pull punches here. In the first chapter, which addresses the title question, the first lines are "No, your cat won't eat your eyeballs. Not right away, at least." Then Doughty goes on to describe the typical actions of increasingly hungry pets, which may begin with poignant attempts to wake the person up and gradually turn into taking advantage of the available food source. There's even an anecdote about a happily-rehomed dog who'd previously had to undergo the dine-on-dead-owner situation; the new owner did not hold it against the little tyke, and neither does Doughty!

Other questions include "what would happen to an astronaut's body in space", "can I keep my parents' skulls after they die", "can I preserve my dead body in amber, like a prehistoric insect", and more along those lines, with responses that touch on legal, moral, and cultural issues as well as scientific facts. Want to know what would happen if you died while on a plane? Apparently the shrinking of seat-sizes in modern planes also means there's no spare storage room at all, so you'd probably be swathed in a blanket and left belted in for the duration of the flight. (There's some sympathy here for the people in the adjoining seats; in a really full flight there's just not a lot of extra space!)

The question about what happens when a cemetery is full seemed a simple one to me - I expected to see comments about such things as removing old bones to ossuaries or catacombs, and that was included. But Doughty also mentioned some high-rise cemeteries, including a 32-story one in Brazil; I hadn't heard of that before! (Though I did read an entertaining audiobook about turning the moon into a necropolis, which worked really well until a meteorite hit and turned all the freeze-dried corpses into zombies. Ahem.)

That wasn't the only entry that taught me something. In the one about "why don't bugs eat people's bones" the author describes the VERY recently-discovered (as in, 2002) bone worms, deep-sea creatures vaguely resembling orange threads, which drill into the bones of whale carcasses that have drifted down into the depths...

"Can I be buried in the same grave as my hamster" forces the author to give a generally-negative answer, with a few exceptions - but it has the most charming illustration in the book, the stylized-skeleton victim whose ribcage houses a tiny skeletal hamster complete with food dishes and hamster-wheel!

There's a lot more to the book, all of which I enjoyed - not least because of the balance between respect for the dead and honesty about the science. Recommended!

Journal Entry 2 by wingGoryDetailswing at Nashua, New Hampshire USA on Friday, February 16, 2024

Released 1 mo ago (2/16/2024 UTC) at Nashua, New Hampshire USA

CONTROLLED RELEASE NOTES:

I'm adding this book to the Books I've Read and Journaled Bookbox #3 (mailing order in the forum thread); bookbox journal with my selections here.

Released for:

** 2024 Wine+Food challenge **

** 2024 Great Backyard Bird Count challenge, for the Norton publisher bird-logo. [See GBBC info here.] **

** 2024 Heads Shoulders Knees Toes challenge **

Journal Entry 3 by winghaahaahaa98wing at Watertown, Massachusetts USA on Wednesday, February 21, 2024
Intriguing! Reserving from the Books I Have Actually Read Bookbox Rd. #3.

Journal Entry 4 by winghaahaahaa98wing at Books I Have Actually Read, A Bookbox -- Controlled Releases on Thursday, February 22, 2024

Released 1 mo ago (2/22/2024 UTC) at Books I Have Actually Read, A Bookbox -- Controlled Releases

CONTROLLED RELEASE NOTES:

I got this book from the "Books I've Read" Bookbox (Rd. 3) and was going to keep it; I read the first entry and although I found it delightfully macabre, I'm not sure I can get through the rest of the volume. Given that my Mt. TBR is already overflowing, I'll re-release this for now back into the "Books I've Read" Bookbox (Rd. 3).

Journal Entry 5 by mrsjones at Hamilton, Ohio USA on Monday, March 18, 2024
Pulled from the "Books I've Read and Journalled" bookbox. Thanks!

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