Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Book Review: Six Feet Under Or Up In Smoke by Jim Eames

Six Feet Under Or Up In Smoke - Jim Eames

In this novel, Eames explores the Australian funeral industry and provides readers with an interesting overview of what goes on behind closed doors. While many people dread the thought of death and funerals, Eames jumps right into it- interviewing people from the industry and explaining all the intricacies involved in such a necessary but morbid profession. He covers many topics, including information about the picking of gravesites, the process of cremation, viewings, coffin manufacturing, hearses, women in the industry, unusual family requests, and people whose job it is to deal with the aftermath of natural disasters, war or terrorism. He also points out the drastic differences between the funeral profession in large cities like Sydney or Melbourne, compared to those of small and isolated rural communities such as Brewarrina or Wanaaring in New South Wales.

What I gained from reading this book:
Everybody dies. It’s a fact of life. Through reading Six Feet Under Or Up In Smoke, readers can learn all about what happens after they pass, and can then make informed decisions about how they want their funerals or memorials arranged. Whether you want to be cremated and have your family scatter your ashes on a favourite beach, or if you’d rather be entombed in the family mausoleum, Eames looks at the pros and cons of each method without passing judgement. This book will tell you everything you ever wanted to know about the business of death in Australia.

There are many amusing anecdotes scattered amidst the facts in this novel. While many are these are from Eames’ father’s experiences as an undertaker in the Australian bush, other people in the profession have also contributed some very interesting tales. These experiences include everything from bogged ‘hearses’ (or utes) to strange requests from the families of the deceased (like the person who was buried with a beer keg as part of his tombstone, so visitors could ‘have a drink on him’)!

Anybody who is reading this book and hoping to see how the Australian funeral industry compares to those overseas may be disappointed. Although Eames mentions the international trade, he does not delve too deeply into the similarities and differences between the two. This book is primarily about Australians and how they cope with death and dying.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Genre: Non-Fiction

Recommended for: Anyone who is interested in reading about the Australian funeral industry, and how it is has changed throughout the years.

Australians can buy the book by clicking the picture below:

Six Feet Under or Up in Smoke: The Aussie Way of Death

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