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Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant?

Chast, Roz

(Book - 2014)
Average Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5.
Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant?
"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" --
Publisher: New York :, Bloomsbury,, 2014
Edition: First U.S. edition
ISBN: 9781608198061
Branch Call Number: 741.5697 C
Characteristics: 228 pages : color illustrations ; 25 cm
Alternate Title: Subtitle on cover: A memoir


From Library Staff

List - Kirkus Prize 2014 by: nypl_mid_manhattan Oct 24, 2014

Winner, nonfiction. "A top-notch graphic memoir that adds a whole new dimension to readers' appreciation of Chast and her work."

From the critics

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Dec 15, 2014
  • lbriverside rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Love Roz Chast and can't wait to dig into this graphic novel that documents her relationship to her parents as they age.

Dec 01, 2014
  • Lucky_Luke rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

Funny and devastating at the same time. If you can laugh at aging, it lightens the burden of caring for elderly parents. Most of us commonly experience denial, guilt and feelings of inadequacy when dealing with end of life issues.

New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast brings her unique brand of cynical humor to this unflinchingly honest graphic memoir recalling the years she spent caring for her aging parents. Her father’s anxiety and increasing dementia were challenging enough, but when her mother’s health began to rapidly decline it became painfully clear to Chast she could no longer be their sole caregiver. Struggling with the guilt of placing her parents in assisted living and the unrelenting worries about expenses related to their care, she does her best to keep everything afloat. As the title suggests, aging and dying are subjects few people wish to discuss but Chast does a commendable job of tempering the difficulties faced by both elderly parents and their caregivers with plenty of absurd, laugh out loud moments. Chast uses a variety of formats to tell her story; sequential cartoon panels are interspersed with a more traditional narrative punctuated by larger illustrations, photographs, and poems written by Chast’s mother. Together, they tell a complex story about a family that, while far from perfect, cared deeply for each other. A finalist for the 2014 National Book Award for Nonfiction -

Sep 05, 2014
  • xaipe rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

I am a big fan of Roz Chast's New Yorker cartoons and this book was a real feast for me. Funny, sad, ruefully loving and the drawings were hilarious. Aging parents and their problems isn't exactly a subject one would expect to be so funny, but I loved it and laughed all the way through.

No matter what kind of relationship you have with your parents, or how many siblings to help you share the responsibility for their care, I think you will be able to relate with the feelings of guilt and inadequacy that we feel as our parents become older and less stable in mind and body. Tempered with humor and antidotes it was irresistible reading.

Aug 01, 2014
  • Jane60201 rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

This book is funny and poignant at the same time--and so,so, true for any child who has been through it with an elderly parent.

Jul 16, 2014
  • kozakd rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

I agree with the previous comments. A brilliant, honest and insightful graphic novel that you will finish in a sitting because you can't put it down.

"Acclaimed cartoonist Roz Chast, best known for her work in The New Yorker, relates her experiences with her aging parents in this bittersweet memoir, which reproduces conversations about getting older and moving to a retirement home (from which the title Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant? derives), followed by descriptions of their declining health and the ends of their lives. Chast captures the reader's sympathy for both her parents and herself, employing documents, photographs, and her usual cartoon style, which brings to life her parents' personalities and her concern for them, leavened with deft touches of ironic humour." Biography and Memoir July 2014 newsletter

Jul 07, 2014
  • GummiGirl rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Fans of Chast's cartoons should be warned: this is not a funny book, except for brief moments. But it's very personal and very honest about the challenges of caring for elderly parents.

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