Last night the Gladstone Hotel hosted a packed house of book lovers and other ghoulish types who came out to watch [email protected]’s James Grainger interview Tom Jokinen, author of Curtains: Adventures of an Undertaker in Training, the story of Jokinen’s eight-month apprenticeship in a Winnipeg funeral home. As Jokinen points out in his book, death is one of the few taboo topics left in our youth-obsessed, full-disclosure culture, but you wouldn’t have known it by the size of the crowd or the enthusiasm displayed for Jokinen’s verbal snapshots of the funeral industry. Who knew that morticians use a type of face paint when preparing bodies for viewing because the adhesiveness of regular cosmetics is generated by body heat, a commodity sorely lacking in corpses? Who knew that savvy companies, to cash in on the consumer shift to cremation, have created a line of urns that include a cuddly teddy bear that discreetly houses the ashes of the departed? Jokinen also spoke eloquently of the challenges facing the funeral industry and the daily regimen of respect, care, and hard work his employers brought to the handling of the dead and the bereaved.
We’ve got some pictures of last night’s event right here.
And, as an added bonus, before the on-stage chat TINARS Co-Artistic Director Chris Reed put a few questions to Grainger—just because interviewing an apprentice mortician seemed like an interesting enough subject in its own right.
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