Can't We Talk about Something More Pleasant? Summary and Reviews

Can't We Talk about Something More Pleasant?

A Memoir

by Roz Chast

Can't We Talk about Something More Pleasant? by Roz Chast X
Can't We Talk about Something More Pleasant? by Roz Chast
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  • Published May 2014
    240 pages
    Genre: Biography/Memoir

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Book Summary

#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.

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Book Awards

  • award image National Book Critics Circle Award, 2014

Reviews

Media Reviews

"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

"Starred 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

"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

This information about Can't We Talk about Something More Pleasant? was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

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Author Information

Roz Chast

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.

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