Sunday, July 25, 2010

CURTAINS: REVIEW AND GIVEAWAY

GIVEAWAY ENDED
CURTAINS
ADVENTURES OF AN UNDERTAKER IN TRAINING
BY TOM JOKINEN

ABOUT THE BOOK:

"There's a time, from when someone dies to when they magically pop up at the funeral or as a bag of ashes, that remains a black hole, invisible to civilians, and they're happy with that arrangement. My job covers that gap." At forty-four, Tom Jokinen decided to quit his job in order to become an apprentice undertaker, setting out to ask the questions: What is the right thing to do when someone dies? With the marketplace offering new options (go green, go anti-corporate, go Disney, be packed into an artificial reef and dropped in the Atlantic...), is there still room for tradition? In a year of adventures both hair-raising and hilarious, Jokinen finds a world that is radically changed since Jessica Mitford revised The American Way of Death, more surprising than Six Feet Under, and even funnier and more illuminating than Stiff.If Bill Bryson were to apprentice at a funeral home, searching for the meaning of life and death, you’d have Curtains. Curtains lifts the veil on the funeral industry in the 21st century.

Curtains
is a first-person account of Jokinen's eight months on the job, picking up the dead from hospital, embalming and cremating and dressing them, not in that order, and working with families struggling with a mystery: what's the right thing to do when someone dies? It's also a look at a business at a crossroads, as traditions and religious ties give way to acts of commerce. Death is less a transition than a transaction. And what will happen when 75-million North American baby boomers are ready for their last commercial adventures? Your local undertaker is dying to find out.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

TOM JOKINEN is a radio producer and video-journalist who has worked on Morningside, Counterspin with Avi Lewis and Definitely Not the Opera as well as many other CBC shows. In 2006 he took a job as an apprentice undertaker at a Winnipeg funeral home. He has also worked as a railroad operator, an editorial cartoonist and spent two years in medical school at the University of Toronto. He dropped out, but not before dissecting two human cadavers.

MY REVIEW:

In CURTAINS: ADVENTURES OF AN UNDERTAKER IN TRAINING, CBS Radio producer Tom Jokinen quit his job to be an apprentice to an undertaker at a family-run funeral home in Winnipeg. He had begun to think seriously about funeral rituals and costs that are so much of what make up that industry. He questioned if it was really the way people wanted to say their final farewell. This resulted in his writing CURTAINS. In it, he tells about what he found out about the industry, from the ordinary everyday routine jobs to the more morbid tasks performed. While in our culture we seem to prefer to keep this process shrouded in mystery rather than know what is going on, Jokinen researched first hand and uncovers some very interesting information. He brings in some of the history as well as the most common practices and trends. His factual information is frank and straight forward but also somewhat perversely fascinating. At times, what he found out can also be funny, but he presents it with respect in all cases.

Jokinen learned many things that so many people want to know but have never had the nerve to ask. He learned the basics of the industry such as about embalming and cremation techniques, as well as how to work with suppliers and how to properly handle grieving families. Things he learned even included about cremation where he found out that the heart and head are the last parts to burn. Details like a dead man will look best in purple lipstick for a viewing, where and how the bodies are picked up and transported from hospitals to funeral homes, why people will pay $2000 for a 5-lb bag of dust without even knowing if it is really their loved one, and even how some funeral directors have been known to dance during the service while out of sight of guests, but with due respect--really?

While this is a morbid subject to many, it is written in an easy-to-read, almost conversational manner. I did find parts of it interesting but with my own personal experience of losing several family members in the last two years, I think it wasn’t perhaps the right time for me to have taken on this book. That isn’t to say it didn’t have some fascinating information and it was well written, but it wasn’t something I look back upon as having been glad I read at this time. I think it has to be an individual decision and if it interests you, you won’t be sorry as it is well done.


GIVEAWAY

THANKS TO SEAN AND THE
GOOD PEOPLE AT PERSEUS BOOKS,
I HAVE ONE COPY OF THIS
FASCINATING BOOK TO GIVE
AWAY TO ONE LUCKY WINNER




--U.S. RESIDENTS ONLY
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HOW TO ENTER
+1 ENTRY: COMMENT ON SOMETHING YOU FOUND INTERESTING ABOUT THE INFORMATION AND REVIEW FOR CURTAINS THAT MAKES YOU THINK YOU WANT TO WIN AND READ THIS BOOK

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GIVEAWAY ENDS AT
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47 comments:

Debs Desk said...

I think the topic of the book is what makes it so interesting. I will be putting this one on my wishlist. Please include me in your giveaway.
Thanks
Debbie D
debdesk9(at)verizon.net

debbie said...

I think it is interesting, there isn't alot I know about the funeral business. I did have a bad experience with my town's funeral home, after my dad died,though.
twoofakind12@yahoo.com

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LoveMyCoffee said...

Very interesting that purple is the best lip color for men for viewing.
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Beverly said...

Thanks for hosting!
+1 - Why am I interested in this book? My grandmother just died and so I have been spending a lot of time thinking about what happens when....
+1 - posted this contest on my sidebar - htt://wormyhole.blogspot.com

bevsharp@desch.org

Tore said...

Sounds interesting. Please enter me in contest. Tore923@aol.com

StephTheBookworm said...

Oh yay! This one is on my to-read list. It was highly recommended to me by a coworker! I think it would be a great book to read because this is a job and topic that most people really know nothing or very little about. It will be a cool peek into an interesting and fascinating topic!

stephaniet117 at yahoo dot com

Anonymous said...

A long time ago, I read The American Way of Death and made some decisions about when I die. Now I would like to read this one because it was some more information that was not in that book. I am also relieved that it has some humorous parts.

CarolNWong(at)aol(dot)com

Anonymous said...

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Benita said...

I find the topic of the book quite interesting-funerals, rituals, is it the way people want to leave the world. Please count me in.

bgcchs(at)yahoo(dot)com

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Linda Kish said...

I would like to know more about the business of funeral homes. The men who came recently to pick up my mom and the people at the mortuary were really wonderful.

lkish77123 at gmail dot com

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traveler said...

Thanks for this great giveaway. The subject matter interests me greatly.

traveler said...

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allisonsbj3 said...

This sounds like an interesting read because I also enjoyed the HBO series Six Feet Under.

allisonsbj3(at)gmail(dot)com

allisonsbj3 said...

I have entered other giveaways!

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bison61 said...

so interesting! in cremation the heart and head are the last parts to burn. I didn't know that

tiramisu392 (at) yahoo.com

Chanelle said...

curious to read this book as it gives you a different way to view death.
cparkins14 AT teancum.net

Heidi V said...

I loved the series Six Feet Under so this book would be interesting to me!

Thanks
heidivargas [at] live dot com

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jenna said...

I think it's interesting that the author has so much experience in so many different fields. I look forward to reading the book.

-Jenna
alackofcolor703(at)yahoo(dot)com

jenna said...

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-Jenna
alackofcolor703(at)yahoo(dot)com

Sarah said...

I think the subject matter is what will make this a great read. It is an unusual topic.

foxchick0323@live.com

Sarah said...

I entered a vintage affair giveaway.

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Jolee said...

sounds interesting. I think his reasons for "getting into the profession" are intriguing. Sorry about your losses recently. :( Not fun, I know. joleehamlin [at] comcast [dot] net

Jolee said...

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Nancye said...

I like gross and yucky things so I think this is a book that I would enjoy (with all due respect, of course). I liked the fact that the book contains behind the scenes look at the entire industry. I guess we'll find out why the costs are so high........

nancyecdavis AT bellsouth DOT net

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