Making an Exit by Sarah Murray
From the Magnificent to the Macabre---How We Dignify the Dead

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Thoughtful, amusing, and provocative, Making an Exit will transform the way you look at life's last passage. Because, as Murray discovers, death is, for many, not an ending but the start of something new.

Author and journalist Sarah Murray never gave much thought to what might ultimately happen to her remains--that was, until her father died. While he'd always insisted that the "organic matter" left after a person takes their last breath had no significance, he surprised his family by setting down elaborate arrangements for the scattering of his own ashes. This unexpected last request prompted Murray to embark on a series of voyages to discover how our end is commemorated around the globe--and how we approach our own mortality.

Spanning continents and centuries, Making an Exit is Murray's exploration of the extraordinary creativity unleashed when we seek to dignify the dead. Along the way, she encounters a cremation in Bali in which two royal personages are placed in giant decorative bulls and consigned to the afterlife in a burst of flames; a chandelier in the Czech Republic made entirely from human bones; a weeping ceremony in Iran; and a Philippine village where the casketed dead are left hanging in caves. She even goes to Ghana to commission her own fantasy coffin.

The accounts of these journeys are fascinating, poignant, and funny. But this is also a very personal quest: on her travels, Murray is seeking inspiration for her own eventual send-off.


About Sarah Murray

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SARAH MURRAY is author of Moveable Feasts: From Ancient Rome to the 21st Century, the Incredible Journeys of the Food We Eat. A longtime Financial Times contributor, she lives in New York City.
Published October 11, 2011 by St. Martin's Press. 321 pages
Genres: Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Making an Exit

Kirkus Reviews

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The author writes how his wishes were fulfilled, and the story becomes a centerpiece for discussing some of the traditional celebrations and rituals that accompany death around the world.

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Publishers Weekly

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Part cultural study, part eulogy for the author's beloved "Fa," and part meditation on coming to grips with mortality, the book concludes with the author creating a novel solution for her own final arrangements, one that matches her wit, ebullience, and joie de vivre that permeates her story and ...

Jul 18 2011 | Read Full Review of Making an Exit: From the Magn...

AV Club

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A sort of companion volume to Stiff, Mary Roach’s wonderfully eccentric study of corpse disposal, Making An Exit has wide appeal: In spite of our finest doctors’ best efforts, she notes, quoting The Onion, “the global death rate remains constant at 100 percent.” But by the time she answers her ow...

Nov 30 2011 | Read Full Review of Making an Exit: From the Magn...

Denver Post

It might seem odd to call journalist Sarah Murray's latest book an "Eat, Pray, Love" for the afterlife.

Nov 02 2011 | Read Full Review of Making an Exit: From the Magn...

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