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Can't We Talk about Something More Pleasant?: A Memoir

by

Can't We Talk about Something More Pleasant?: A Memoir Cover

ISBN13: 9781608198061
ISBN10: 1608198065
All Product Details

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

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.

An amazing portrait of two lives at their end and an only child coping as best she can, Can We Talk about Something More Pleasant will show the full range of Roz Chast's talent as cartoonist and storyteller.

Review:

"'Something more pleasant' than the certainty of old age and death is what Chast's parents would prefer to talk about, in this poignant and funny text-and-cartoon memoir of their final years. (In one cartoon, the Grim Reaper declares, 'The Chasts are talking about me? Why, I'll show them!') Chast, a cartoonist who contributes frequently to the New Yorker, describes how her parents, George and Elizabeth, try her patience as she agonizes over their past and future. She brings her parents and herself to life in the form of her characteristic scratchy-lined, emotionally expressive characters, making the story both more personal and universal. Despite the subject matter, the book is frequently hilarious, highlighting the stubbornness and eccentricities (and often sheer lunacy) of the author's parents. It's a homage that provides cathartic 'you are not alone' support to those caring for aging parents. Like Raymond Briggs's classic Ethel and Ernest, this is a cartoon memoir to laugh and cry, and heal, with — Roz Chast's masterpiece." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Review:

"Revelatory....Few graphic memoirs are as engaging and powerful as this or strike a more responsive chord. Chast retains her signature style and wry tone throughout this long-form blend of text and drawings, but nothing she's done previously hits home as hard as this account of her family life....A series of wordless drawings of her mother's final days represents the most intimate and emotionally devastating art that Chast has created. 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

Review:

"Chast's scratchy art turns out perfectly suited to capturing the surreal realities of the death process. In quirky color cartoons, handwritten text, photos, and her mother's poems, she documents the unpleasant yet sometimes hilarious cycle of human doom. She's especially dead-on with the unpredictable mental states of both the dying and their caregivers: placidity, denial, terror, lunacy, resignation, vindictiveness, and rage....Chast so skillfully exposes herself and her family on the page as to give readers both insight and entertainment on a topic nearly everyone avoids. As with her New Yorker cartoons, Chast's memoir serves up existential dilemmas along with chuckles and can help serve as a tutorial for the inevitable." Library Journal, starred review

Review:

“If you've ever wondered about the origins of Roz Chast's quavery, quietly desperate, antimacassar-bestrewn universe, look no further. This grim, sidesplitting memoir about the slow decline of her meek father and overpowering mother explains it all. Bedsores, dementia, broken hips — no details are spared, and 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 and Are You My Mother?

Review:

“Reading Roz Chast has always had the quality of eavesdropping on a person's private mutterings-to-herself. In this memoir of a most wretched time in her life, 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

Synopsis:

Something completely new from New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast, a graphic memoir that walks the line between poignancy and humor as she tells the personal story of her parents final years.

About the Author

Roz Chast was born in Brooklyn, New York. Her cartoons began appearing in the New Yorker in 1978. Since then she has published hundreds of cartoons and written or illustrated more than a dozen books. This is her first memoir. She lives in Ridgefield, Connecticut.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 4 comments:

Karen Sampson, January 11, 2015 (view all comments by Karen Sampson)
I look forward to reading this very much! I took care of my elderly, ailing, and dementia suffering parents for a few years and understand how traumatic, yet life enhancing the experience can be. Depression, anger, exhaustion, but also gratitude that I was able to be there for them were part of my experience. Finally having to have both admitted to homes where they could receive better care than I ultimately could provide was painful and I still feel some guilt, but I know it was for the best for them and for me. I have already told my son to place me somewhere if I reach a point where I am helpless and have dementia, and not to feel guilty...I have given him pre-permission:-)!
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
Bryan Furuness, January 8, 2015 (view all comments by Bryan Furuness)
When Roz Chast left the city to move to a Connecticut suburb, her parents were 78 years old, but the last thing they wanted to do was talk about aging and dying. Whenever Chast brought up the subject, they deflected, denied, re-routed the conversation. It's not that they were ignorant; they were just practiced at ignoring. Time has a way of pressing the issue, though, and after her father showed signs of senile dementia and her mother had a fall, they could no longer avoid the subject. To borrow a phrase from the author: This is a book about people who don't want to deal, being forced to deal.

The fact is that most of us in this country don't want to deal, which must have made this book a tough pitch to publishers. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if you're squirming a bit right now ("Can't we read something more pleasant?"). But in Chast's hands, the story charms the reader with dark wit and rueful honesty. Her sensibility manages to be really serious and really funny, sometimes all at once. When her father calls Chast to say that her mother took a bad fall and is refusing to go to the hospital, the take-charge mother butts in on the extension and announces, "I wrote a poem about it."

Chast is unsparing in her portrayal of her parents, though it's softened by comedy and sympathy. "Between their one-bad-thing-after-another lives, and the Depression, World War II, and the Holocaust, it was amazing that they weren't crazier than they were." Ultimately, she's harder on herself than anyone else, exposing her worries and shame as she attended to her parents' decline. As a result, we get a loving but clear-eyed picture of a couple's last days, and what it's like to care for them. What Chast has given us, then, is not only a good book, but an important one. Through CAN'T WE TALK ABOUT SOMETHING MORE PLEASANT?, we can all begin to deal.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
spring22, November 11, 2014 (view all comments by spring22)
Roz Chast has either been spying on my family or she has exquisitely rendered, in drawings and prose, the heart-wrenching, maddening, impossibly hard experience of an elderly parent's decline and death. Her cartoons are familiar to many from "The New Yorker" magazine, and they often strike a note of shared understanding. I devoured in one sitting her documentation of dealing with her elderly parents' final years in this miraculous book. If you are of the generation of grown children now finding themselves parenting their parents, this book will make you laugh, cry, and cope.
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(0 of 1 readers found this comment helpful)
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Product Details

ISBN:
9781608198061
Subtitle:
A Memoir
Author:
Chast, Roz
Publisher:
Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Subject:
Personal Memoirs
Subject:
Nonfiction
Subject:
Graphic Novels-Nonfiction
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Board Book
Publication Date:
20140531
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Language:
English
Pages:
240
Dimensions:
9.25 x 7.5 in 1 lb

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Related Subjects

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Arts and Entertainment » Art » Illustration
Arts and Entertainment » Humor » Cartoons » General
Biography » General
Children's » Comics and Graphic Novels » Comics
Featured Titles » Biography
Featured Titles » Genre
Featured Titles » New Arrivals » Nonfiction
Fiction and Poetry » Graphic Novels » Featured Titles
Fiction and Poetry » Graphic Novels » General
Fiction and Poetry » Graphic Novels » Nonfiction

Can't We Talk about Something More Pleasant?: A Memoir New Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$28.00 In Stock
Product details 240 pages Bloomsbury Publishing PLC - English 9781608198061 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "'Something more pleasant' than the certainty of old age and death is what Chast's parents would prefer to talk about, in this poignant and funny text-and-cartoon memoir of their final years. (In one cartoon, the Grim Reaper declares, 'The Chasts are talking about me? Why, I'll show them!') Chast, a cartoonist who contributes frequently to the New Yorker, describes how her parents, George and Elizabeth, try her patience as she agonizes over their past and future. She brings her parents and herself to life in the form of her characteristic scratchy-lined, emotionally expressive characters, making the story both more personal and universal. Despite the subject matter, the book is frequently hilarious, highlighting the stubbornness and eccentricities (and often sheer lunacy) of the author's parents. It's a homage that provides cathartic 'you are not alone' support to those caring for aging parents. Like Raymond Briggs's classic Ethel and Ernest, this is a cartoon memoir to laugh and cry, and heal, with — Roz Chast's masterpiece." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Review" by , "Revelatory....Few graphic memoirs are as engaging and powerful as this or strike a more responsive chord. Chast retains her signature style and wry tone throughout this long-form blend of text and drawings, but nothing she's done previously hits home as hard as this account of her family life....A series of wordless drawings of her mother's final days represents the most intimate and emotionally devastating art that Chast has created. 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."
"Review" by , "Chast's scratchy art turns out perfectly suited to capturing the surreal realities of the death process. In quirky color cartoons, handwritten text, photos, and her mother's poems, she documents the unpleasant yet sometimes hilarious cycle of human doom. She's especially dead-on with the unpredictable mental states of both the dying and their caregivers: placidity, denial, terror, lunacy, resignation, vindictiveness, and rage....Chast so skillfully exposes herself and her family on the page as to give readers both insight and entertainment on a topic nearly everyone avoids. As with her New Yorker cartoons, Chast's memoir serves up existential dilemmas along with chuckles and can help serve as a tutorial for the inevitable."
"Review" by , “If you've ever wondered about the origins of Roz Chast's quavery, quietly desperate, antimacassar-bestrewn universe, look no further. This grim, sidesplitting memoir about the slow decline of her meek father and overpowering mother explains it all. Bedsores, dementia, broken hips — no details are spared, and 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.”
"Review" by , “Reading Roz Chast has always had the quality of eavesdropping on a person's private mutterings-to-herself. In this memoir of a most wretched time in her life, 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.”
"Synopsis" by , Something completely new from New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast, a graphic memoir that walks the line between poignancy and humor as she tells the personal story of her parents final years.
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