August 21, 2006 12:00 PM

By Lisa Takeuchi Cullen

REVIEWED BY NATALIE DANFORD

NONFICTION

Ashes to ashes, dust to … diamonds? Transforming cremains into bling is one of the wacky trends chronicled in Cullen’s bouncy—and often quite funny—account of “shopping-after-death options.” The TIME writer discusses possibilities such as “green burials” of unembalmed bodies (as featured on Six Feet Under), caskets carved to look like everything from a bottle of beer to a 1958 Corvette, and plastination—which basically turns a corpse into a mannequin. A chapter dedicated to the traditional Japanese funeral of her own grandfather in ’04 mixes humor and sadness. Ultimately, this quick, lively study reveals a deep truth: that death and its rituals “can make the living appreciate the here and now.”

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