Can't We Talk about Something More Pleasant? (Hardcover)
Bloomsbury USA, 9781608198061, 240pp.
Publication Date: May 6, 2014
May 2014 Indie Next List
— Darwin Ellis, Books on the Common, Ridgefield, CT
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#1 New York Times Bestseller
2014 NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FINALIST
In her first memoir, New Yorker cartoonist 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.
About the Author
Praise For Can't We Talk about Something More Pleasant?: A Memoir…
“By turns grim and absurd, deeply poignant and laugh-out-loud funny. Ms. Chast reminds us how deftly the graphic novel can capture ordinary crises in ordinary American lives.” —Michiko Kakutani, New York Times
“A tour de force of dark humor and illuminating pathos about her parents' final years as only this quirky genius of pen and ink could construe them.” —Elle
“An achievement of dark humor that rings utterly true.” —Washington Post
“One of the major books of 2014 . . . Moving and bracingly candid . . . This is, in its original and unexpected way, one of the great autobiographical memoirs of our time.” —Buffalo News
“Better than any book I know, this extraordinarily honest, searing and hilarious graphic memoir captures (and helps relieve) the unbelievable stress that results when the tables turn and grown children are left taking care of their parents. . . [A] remarkable, poignant memoir.” —San Francisco Chronicle
“Very, very, very funny, in a way that a straight-out memoir about the death of one's elderly parents probably would not be . . . Ambitious, raw and personal as anything she has produced.” —New York Times
“Devastatingly good . . . Anyone who has had Chast's experience will devour this book and cling to it for truth, humor, understanding, and the futile wish that it could all be different.” —St. Louis Post Dispatch
“Gut-wrenching and laugh-aloud funny. I want to recommend it to everyone I know who has elderly parents, or might have them someday.” —Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
“Joins Muriel Spark's Memento Mori, William Trevor's The Old Boys, and Kingsley Amis's Ending Up in the competition for the funniest book about old age I've ever read. It is also heartbreaking.” —Barnes & Noble Review
“Revelatory… So many have faced (or will face) the situation that the author details, but no one could render it like she does. A top-notch graphic memoir that adds a whole new dimension to readers' appreciation of Chast and her work.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review
“Chast is at the top of her candid form, delivering often funny, trenchant, and frequently painful revelations--about human behavior, about herself--on every page.” —David Small, author of Stitches
“Never has the abyss of dread and grief been plumbed to such incandescently hilarious effect. The lines between laughter and hysteria, despair and rage, love and guilt, are quavery indeed, and no one draws them more honestly, more . . . unscrimpingly, than Roz Chast.” —Alison Bechdel, author of Fun Home
“Roz Chast squeezes more existential pain out of baffled people in cheap clothing sitting around on living-room sofas with antimacassar doilies in crummy apartments than Dostoevsky got out of all of Russia's dark despair. This is a great book in the annals of human suffering, cleverly disguised as fun.” —Bruce McCall, author of Bruce McCall's Zany Afternoons
Conversation Starters from ReadingGroupChoices.com
- Have you had a similar discussion with your parents and/or children about aging and long-term care plans? What was the result? At what age do you think parents and children should have this conversation?generic viagra price canada
- Which part(s) of the book, if any, could you relate to the most? Did you find yourself empathizing more with George and Elizabeth, or Roz? Did this change as you progressed through the book?generic viagra price canada
- Which aspects of the role reversal Chast depicts—the child assuming a caretaker role—were the most striking to you? What emotions did you experience as you were reading about the challenges Roz, George, and Elizabeth all faced?generic viagra price canada
- Did you enjoy Chast’s technique of telling her story through illustrations? Why or why not? Were there scenes in the book that you thought were more or less effective because they were depicted in cartoons rather than in straightforward text? Which ones, and why?generic viagra price canada
- Whose experience is more frightening to you—George and Elizabeth’s, or Roz’s?generic viagra price canada
- Which parts of the memoir made you laugh? Which made you cry? Did Chast’s use of humor surprise you? Do you think it’s necessary or inappropriate to approach this type of subject with humor?generic viagra price canada
- In the chapter “The Fall,” would you have done anything differently than Roz did? Who did you sympathize with the most in this section?generic viagra price canada
- Did your perceptions of George and Elizabeth as parents, spouses, and people in general change as the book went on? If so, in what ways?generic viagra price canada
- Were there scenes in the book that you found exasperating? If so, which ones and why?generic viagra price canada
- What do you think George and Elizabeth would think about the ways in which they’re represented in the memoir?generic viagra price canada
- In your opinion, what is the greatest loss that George and Elizabeth experience as they age?generic viagra price canada
- Have you considered your own end-of-life plans? Why or why not? Was the book informational for you, and if so, what did you learn? Has reading this book changed your thinking about your own end-of-life care?generic viagra price canada