Another reviewer said the author is somewhat preachy. True, especially when he's tetchily trying to defend the crasser innovations of his profession from the damning arguments made decades ago by Jessica Mitford in *The American Way of Death*. Mitford wins this one handily. There are interesting & tolerably lyrical passages elsewhere in the book, but one can never shake the impression that this author takes himself, qua undertaker, far too seriously. American death practices, as fashioned by the funeral industry, are as uncouth & graceless as ever. The author, in his day job, proctors a banal ritual & with ample wishful thinking tries to lend it poetry after the fact. Something like a car salesman waxing philosophical about his job.