Picks and Pans Review: Remember Me

UPDATED 08/21/2006 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 08/21/2006 at 01:00 AM EDT

By Lisa Takeuchi Cullen

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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