Book Review: Curtains – Tom Jokinen

Title: Curtains: Adventures of an Undertaker-in-Training
Author: Tom Jokinen
ISBN: 9780306818912
Pages: 288
Release Date: March 23, 2010
Publisher: Da Capo Pres
Genre: Non-Fiction, Memoir
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Summary:

In this book, Tom Jokinen recounts his time as an undertaker-in-training at a funeral home in Winnipeg, Canada.  He uses his experiences to deliver information on the funeral industry, as well as to comment on its practices.

Review:

A word of warning:  if you don’t have at least a somewhat morbid sense of humor, don’t even bother with Curtains.  If you do, though, then you might find this book as delightful as I did.

Tom Jokinen has a dry wit that works very well in Curtains.  He describes funeral practices in detail, inserting enough commentary to keep the narrative entertaining.  Additionally, he finds himself in the funniest situations.  For example, at one point he’s driving a hearse with a dead body in the back and listening to Mr. Roboto by Styx.  Upon reflecting, he turns off the radio, thinking that Mr. Roboto is probably not an appropriate song to send a person off.  It’s these kinds of moments that make the book worth reading – inappropriate, yet morbidly amusing.

Additionally, I found the tidbits of information Jokinen relayed to be very interesting.  I didn’t know much about funeral homes or death practices when I began this book, so I feel like I learned a lot.  Though Jokinen does not shy away from detailed descriptions of the processes used to prepare a body for burial, or the process and aftermath of cremation, I was never really turned off.  I don’t do well with graphic violence, yet this didn’t bother me.  Jokinen’s matter-of-fact method of communication worked very well.

The greater commentary about the funeral industry was surprising.  Jokinen relayed information that I didn’t expect (mainly, the growing popularity of cremation).  It was really interesting to read about the politics between different funeral homes, as well as the relationships these institutions try to develop with the living.  Jokinen’s discussion was simply fascinating and I was engrossed from beginning to end.

Curtains was absorbing, which I hoped for, and very funny, which I really didn’t expect.  I feel like I didn’t really do the book justice with this review.  If you enjoy non-fiction, don’t hesitate to pick this one up.  It’s interesting, fun, and very easy to read!

Comments

  1. Have you ever read Stiff, by Mary Roach? If you enjoyed this one, I think you would like that one too. I think this sounds like a really interesting book, and since I am one who isn’t easily offended, it’s probably a book I would love!

  2. Have you ever read Stiff, by Mary Roach? If you enjoyed this one, I think you would like that one too. I think this sounds like a really interesting book, and since I am one who isn’t easily offended, it’s probably a book I would love!

  3. I’ve been wanting to read this one, ever since Rebecca recommended it. It does sound a lot like Stiff by Mary Roach, which I loved, so I’m pretty sure I’d like this one.

  4. I’ve been wanting to read this one, ever since Rebecca recommended it. It does sound a lot like Stiff by Mary Roach, which I loved, so I’m pretty sure I’d like this one.

  5. This sounds hilarious – and I mean hilarious in the most respectful way possible. I think I’ll try it!

  6. This sounds hilarious – and I mean hilarious in the most respectful way possible. I think I’ll try it!

  7. I loved reading your review…made me want to read this. So I will. Thanks!

  8. I loved reading your review…made me want to read this. So I will. Thanks!

  9. This makes me think of a funeral home in the area I grew up in. They would pay groups a fee for each person they got to tour their facilities, so every club I belonged to toured – I can’t tell you how many times I toured that place! The book sounds interesting.

  10. This makes me think of a funeral home in the area I grew up in. They would pay groups a fee for each person they got to tour their facilities, so every club I belonged to toured – I can’t tell you how many times I toured that place! The book sounds interesting.

  11. This isn’t something I’d pick up if I just saw it somewhere, but after reading your review, I’m adding it to my list!

    🙂

  12. This isn’t something I’d pick up if I just saw it somewhere, but after reading your review, I’m adding it to my list!

    🙂

  13. This is on my radar from when Rebecca reviewed it, thanks for reminding me about it!

  14. This is on my radar from when Rebecca reviewed it, thanks for reminding me about it!

  15. I have a twisted sense of entertainment, so I’m fairly sure I would like this one.

  16. I have a twisted sense of entertainment, so I’m fairly sure I would like this one.

  17. I have a morbid interest in the funeral home/hearse life.

  18. I have a morbid interest in the funeral home/hearse life.

  19. I have a morbid interest in the funeral home/hearse life.

  20. I have a morbid interest in the funeral home/hearse life.

  21. I loved Stiff and I loved the HBO show Six Feet Under. I think I would love this too. And, yes, my sense of humor can be twisted.

  22. I loved Stiff and I loved the HBO show Six Feet Under. I think I would love this too. And, yes, my sense of humor can be twisted.

  23. I’m always on the lookout for an interesting memoir. This sounds like it fits the bill.

  24. I’m always on the lookout for an interesting memoir. This sounds like it fits the bill.

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