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Dying for dollars
By Jason Tanz, FSB Magazine

(FSB Magazine) -- Death is a tragedy, a philosophical conundrum, and a biological inevitability - but it is also a business. In her new book, Remember Me (coming in August from HarperCollins, $24.95), Lisa Takeuchi Cullen looks at the "new American way of death," including the "end-trepreneurs" who are finding innovative ways to profit on the end of others' lives.

Cullen, a writer for Time magazine, sees the funeral industry as a collection of dreamers, hucksters, and terrified dinosaurs struggling to cope with changing demands. ("We have to accept that we're event planners now," confesses an attendee of the 2004 National Funeral Directors Association convention.)

But it's not all gloom: Many of Cullen's airborne ash scatterers and eco-cemetery owners are surprisingly upbeat about their work. The founder of a company that converts cremains into diamonds recalls his excitement when he hit upon the idea: "I was going berserk, talking to everybody about this." Spoken like a true end-trepreneur.

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