Can’t We Talk About
Something More Pleasant?
By: Roz Chast
In her first memoir, Roz Chast brings her signature wit to the topic of aging parents. Spanning the last several years of their lives and told through four-color cartoons, family photos, and documents, and a narrative as rife with laughs as it is with tears, Chast’s memoir is both comfort and comic relief for anyone experiencing the life-altering loss of elderly parents.
When it came to her elderly mother and father, Roz held to the practices of denial, avoidance, and distraction. But when Elizabeth Chast climbed a ladder to locate an old souvenir from the “crazy closet”—with predictable results—the tools that had served Roz well through her parents’ seventies, eighties, and into their early nineties could no longer be deployed.
While the particulars are Chast-ian in their idiosyncrasies—an anxious father who had relied heavily on his wife for stability as he slipped into dementia and a former assistant principal mother whose overbearing personality had sidelined Roz for decades—the themes are universal: adult children accepting a parental role; aging and unstable parents leaving a family home for an institution; dealing with uncomfortable physical intimacies; managing logistics; and hiring strangers to provide the most personal care.
An amazing portrait of two lives at their end and an only child coping as best she can, Can't We Talk about Something More Pleasant will show the full range of Roz Chast’s talent as cartoonist and storyteller.
I am so very moved by this little book filled with pictures. Simple yet so complex, Roz Chast explores a section of our lives we never wish to truly discuss; the end of life preparation and care of our parents. It’s a unique experience few of us think too much about but will all experience to some level.
Roz shares her experiences with elderly parents and the inevitable problems of getting older. As an only child, Roz is tasked with taking care of her 90+ year old father and mother who live in New York. She discusses illnesses, child guilt, elder care and ultimately death in a serious yet comedic style. Told through pictures and words, Roz’s story is one we all can relate to, even if we aren’t at that point in our lives. Well written, you can’t help but empathize and giggle as Roz shares her experiences.
Considered one of the best books of 2014, I can easily see why it would deserve the honor. Balancing comedy, kindness, and real life situations and feelings, Chast ultimately asks, can’t we talk about something a little more pleasant?
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Date of Publication: May 6, 2014
# of Pages: 228
Location: New York