Can’t We Talk about Something More Pleasant by Roz Chast

Our member Susan Denniston writes:

Roz Chast has been a long-time popular cartoonist for the New Yorker Magazine and other publications. In her 2014 graphic memoir, Can’t We Talk about Something More Pleasant, Roz Chast talks about the difficulty of becoming a caregiver and resource for her elderly parents. She uses her humor and illustrative skills  to chronicle the serious topics of aging and death. Can’t We Talk.., which is a finalist for the Non-Fiction 2014 National Book Award, painstakingly and humorously describes her parents decline, starting in their 80s, and her increasing responsibilities as only child caregiver and resource. Roz Chast’s memoir is partly cartoon and partly handwritten narrative. She confesses to knowing nothing about care for the elderly until she was forced to learn.

Roz Chast and her parents, Elizabeth and George Chast lived in Brooklyn when Roz was a child. Her parents remained in their Brooklyn apartment after Roz left home. Elizabeth Chast was an Assistant Principal of an elementary school for a large part of her life and a force to be reckoned with. George Chast taught high school Spanish and French and was more amiable than his wife.

The subjects that Roz Chast confronts are ones that many adult children have dealt with or will in the future: personalities and long-held opinions of parents; a “crazy closet” of stuff (much like an attic, basement, garage or junk drawer); lack of wills/trusts/directives; growing dementia and physical ailments; isolation; choosing and moving to “the place” (an assisted living facility or other unwanted but necessary next residence). Roz Chast talks about these topics and others with honesty, trepidation and humor. Her cartoons capture the frustrations, fears and absurdities of her life as she cared for her parents in their last years.

Roz Chast writes with a sarcastic, laugh-out-loud wit, enhanced by wonderfully descriptive cartoons.  A must read for adult children of all ages!