Can't We Talk about Something More Pleasant?

Can't We Talk about Something More Pleasant?

by Roz Chast


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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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781608198061
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Publication date: 05/06/2014
Pages: 240
Sales rank: 612,557
Product dimensions: 7.70(w) x 9.40(h) x 0.90(d)

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.

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Can't We Talk about Something More Pleasant?: A Memoir 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 30 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is laugh out loud funny. The cartoons with captions only add to hilarity. Been there and done that and know humor is sometimes the only thing to get you through. True feeling and efforts at doing right for parents comes through loud and strong.
Runner510 More than 1 year ago
An absolutely brilliant book, sometimes hilarious and often heartbreaking and frightening. Chast tells (mostly with her characteristic cartoons, though there are also short sections of handwritten text) of the aging and inexorable decline of her parents, who both lived to over 90, but along the way she reveals much about her own childhood and the kookiness of her household. Her WHEEL OF DOOM--a diagram showing dire parental warnings that progress, for instance, from "Sitting directly on the ground" to "A cold in your kidneys" to, of course, DEATH--is classic Chast and had me laughing uncontrollably for about 10 minutes. As the book progresses, there is less humor as Chast details the brutal task of dealing with her parents' infirmities, and she is incredibly honest about all her conflicted feelings. She in unsparing when depicting the indignities that come with old age and the many difficulties that come along with trying to help the elderly at the end of their lives. Chast has put together something that is wildly humorous while also being unspeakably sad--an amazing feat.
TheIndigoQuill More than 1 year ago
See full review @ The Indigo Quill . blogspot . com Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? : A Memoir, Is a graphic novel by Roz Chast that tells the story of her experiences caring for her elderly parents as they make their way through the least popular stage of life; the last one. Chast uses her unique and candid voice and eccentric drawing style to illuminate a very dark topic in society. What she creates is a story that is equal parts hilarious, heartwarming and downright depressing.  Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant gives a brutally honest account of the author’s life and the lives of her parents from childhood to the inevitable conclusion. Chast pulls no punches when describing the challenges of caring for an aging parent. She manages to distill every moment of heartache and comedy out of everything from senility to generational differences to just plain stubbornness. Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant is part biography, part memoir, part new Yorker comic, except it’s actually funny. The comedic portions are extremely funny but the dark aspect to the humor had me wondering if I should be laughing at times. The idiosyncrasies of Chast and her family make for some truly funny moments until they are put against the backdrop of the hurt that bore them. In that sense, Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant is a perfect slice of the human experience; funny on the surface, dig a bit deeper and it is morbidly depressing, see the big picture and everything kind of turns out all right.  The entire book feels like a therapeutic exercise on the part of the author. She really delves into the problems she had with her parents, especially her mother and how those problems affected their dynamic later in life. Extremely complex feelings are unearthed and captured in comic form. The medium of the comic lends a lighthearted air to what is a very uncomfortable subject, but Chast also uses it to profound effect to plumb the depths of familial relations. Her brutal honesty for her portrayal of events is only matched by her brutal honesty about herself. For every strip about an annoying quirk of her father or the brash overbearing nature of her mother, there is one about her own guilt over her impatience with her parents or selfish thoughts. It all goes a long way toward chronicling the unceasingly arduous, mercilessly expensive, insanity inducing and at times extremely funny experience of taking care of the people who once took care of you.  Calvin and Hobbes holds the same kind of importance for young, only children as Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant will hold for those in the sandwich generation. It is the quintessential dark comedy for anyone with aging parents but should by no means be limited to that. Within hours of reading it, I had already recommended it to everyone close to me. I would recommend it to anyone who is in need of a laugh, a cry, or both at the same time. Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant is incredibly evocative and charming and is well worth a read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book. I sometimes thought she over shared, not in her experience but her own personal thought processes ( ex. inheritance running out). That's more something I would confide in a good friend, then write down for the world to see. On the other hand, that same fresh honesty in other areas was really very informative. I loved her stories she shared, old photos, etc. I thought it was a really beautiful book. It kept my interest, and I finished in one day. I will be passing this to my own mother who is currently caring for my aging grandmother.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Being a baby boomer and having had parents who survived to almost ninety, this book takes a rather unfortunate subject, and makes it enlightening through humor. The author has great observational skills, which she employs to depict her aging parents circumstances as they age from the "golden" years, to the more difficult "survival" years. The book is written in a comic book style, which allows the reader to digest and enjoy a difficult subject. When you are caring for aging parents, you sometimes wonder if you are alone, but reading this book made me realize I was not. My sister read it as well, and we both agreed that this is one of the most accurate portrayals of aging that we have ever come across.
voyager8 More than 1 year ago
Wow Roz Chast is on point with this graphic memoir that traces her parents elder years to  their deaths in their mid to late 90s. My parents are in their nineties and still living "independantly" so this is exactly what my sister and I are going thru now..amazingly acurate, informationa; and sometimes sad a must read if your in the situation!
Ziggy317 More than 1 year ago
A great book for anyone who has mortal parents -- I read the book and then read it again.  I wish she had written it two years ago when I was going through a lot of the same experiences.  And now I'm going to throw some stuff away, so my children don't have to.
Swampgal2 More than 1 year ago
Required reading for anyone who suddenly finds herself handling business of  frail elderly parents. Beautiful humor and loving respect. Thank you Roz Chast for talking about the unpleasant. This gorgeous book will grace our coffee table for years. Thinking of giving it to my sons  When I reach a certain age! 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I heard Roz Chast on NPR talking about her book. I have a dear friend who recently had to move her mother into care, and my father-in-law is in hospice at home. My own mom died at 58,but my dad is going strong at 83. There are so many parallels and yet so many differences between my experience and Ms. Chast's, that I found a lot comfort and empathy in this book. We will all take the journey one way or another, and we will all deal with the same stuff. This was an excellent way to process and share their troubled story. I say read and enjoy while you grieve.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Just couldn't put this book down. Anyone living with, caring for, or providing for an elderly parent needs to read it. You will be able to relate to the author. Very graphic emotional roller coaster. The book openly describes many end of life issues and choices that all of us face in the future. The humor is very stress relieving and real. I would recommend this book to anyone dealing with end of life issues.
BrowserCatMom More than 1 year ago
In this graphic memoir, Roz Chast confronts the reality of adult children caring for geriatric parents. She is so blatantly honest about her own coping skills (and lack thereof) that if not for her touching and amazing sense of humor, it would almost be unbearable to read. This is especially so if you are currently in the midst of caring for your own beloved, but wretchedly declining, mom or dad - an experience that can be gratifying, horrific, frightening, frustrating and guilt-inducing. She lets us know that we are not alone in this maze and that we will, eventually, find our way out of it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good read
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A beautiful testament of her imperfect parents.
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Brunette_Librarian More than 1 year ago
      I am so very moved by this little book filled with pictures. Simple yet so complex, Roz Chast explores a section of our lives we never wish to truly discuss; the end of life preparation and care of our parents. It’s a unique experience few of us think too much about but will all experience to some level.      Roz shares her experiences with elderly parents and the inevitable problems of getting older. As an only child, Roz is tasked with taking care of her 90+ year old father and mother who live in New York. She discusses illnesses, child guilt, elder care and ultimately death in a serious yet comedic style. Told through pictures and words, Roz’s story is one we all can relate to, even if we aren’t at that point in our lives. Well written, you can’t help but empathize and giggle as Roz shares her experiences.        Considered one of the best books of 2014, I can easily see why it would deserve the honor. Balancing comedy, kindness, and real life situations and feelings, Chast ultimately asks, can’t we talk about something a little more pleasant?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Alix1 More than 1 year ago
I loved this book, having recently been through much of the same things. It was so true but also humorous. I recommend it highly for anyone who has or is dealing with elderly parent issues.
Burncoatgirl More than 1 year ago
Roz Chast has captured every end of life decision, issue and struggle of our parents' lives. With words and pictures that support and comfort us - the caregivers - we are not alone. We are encouraged to cry, laugh and be thoughtful, and there was nothing missing. Cleaning out my mother's house to sell it was an archaeological dig into my life as well as hers. Making legal, medical and financial decisions were made thoughtfully. I have bought several copies of this memoir and given them to my attorney, therapist, financial adviser and sibling; and may gift them to others as time and circumstance arise. Roz Chast was my constant and reliable companion through the last six months of my mother's life, and I could not have asked for better.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book hit home, caring for my elderly mom. The author sounded like me. :)
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