Saturday, May 31, 2014

Guest Post: "Can't We Talk about Something More Pleasant?" by Roz Chast

My friend Mary emailed me about how much she liked the New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast’s new graphic/cartoon book, “Can’t We Talk about Something More Pleasant?” (Bloomsbury, 2014). I have now read it and agree that it is wonderful. But Mary described the book, and her own reactions to it, so well that, with her kind permission, the rest of this post is a slightly edited version of her email. Mary says: “This book reads like a novel – or a gripping memoir, which it is. It’s a combination of funny and heartbreaking. It describes her parents during the last few years of their lives, when they are very old. Chast had a very unhappy childhood, and an especially difficult mother. Her parents are both now dead. But despite this, I laughed out loud, with tears of hilarity rolling down my face during much of the time I read it. Yet much of it was also very touching, brutally, unflatteringly honest, and very sad. Sometimes the sad parts and the hilarious parts were interwoven. The written and the visual combine in a powerful way, as they do in graphic novels. Since I read it, the theme of her story has been haunting me. Chast is unblinking in her description of the last, raggedy endings of her parents’ lives. This is a funny, sad, lovely and eloquent book throughout.”

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