Review of Can’t We Talk about Something More Pleasant?, by Roz Chast

I won a signed copy of Roz Chast‘s Can’t We Talk about Something More Pleasant? some time ago and then it got hurried on my book shelves. I finally rediscovered it.

Description from Goodreads:
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.

Review:
It’s really a shame it took me so long to read this because I…well, I was going to say really enjoyed it, but that’s not the right way to phrase what I mean. One doesn’t enjoy a heart-wrenching story of a woman trying to deal with the death of her parents. But I could relate to it. There is a certain raw, scraped bare quality to the book that I didn’t expect, especially from a graphic memoir. The reader really feels Chast’s pain at the loss of her father and her disconcertion when dealing with her mother. Plus, Chast admits to feels a lot of us have probably had about their parents, but would rather hide the deep recesses of our mind and deny exist. All in all, a good read.

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