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Can't We Talk about Something More Pleasant?

A Memoir

This book can be downloaded and read in Apple Books on your Mac or iOS device.


#1 New York Times Bestseller


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't We Talk about Something More Pleasant will show the full range of Roz Chast's talent as cartoonist and storyteller.

From Publishers Weekly

Mar 10, 2014 – "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.


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Customer Reviews

Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant?

I initially could not get into this graphic novel as it reminded me of a comic book. After listening to my bookclub talk about the book I tried reading it again and this time it "grabbed" me. This is an absolutely spot on depiction of family life (especially poignant to me as an only child). It was very brave of the author to be so brutally honest with her feelings about her parents and I applaud her. This is not a funny book as I initially thought. This book deals honestly with family dynamics and aging parents. I saw myself as both the daughter and the aging parent of my children. This graphic novel says it all with honesty, humor and reality.

Loved it

It's 1:00 AM. I need to get up at 5:00, but I couldn't put this comic book (with some prose) down.
I was interested in the book since I heard the author's interview with Terry Gross a while ago. I'm unfamiliar with Roz Chast's comics from The New Yorker, but I have an elderly, somewhat dementia-d mother who requires ever increasing oversight from me, from persuading her to move, to clearing her house of 42+ years, to taking over her bills, to driving her to her get the idea.
The book was exactly what I needed: a view from someone experiencing the same frustration, worry, unappreciated effort, guilt, exhaustion, anger & more emotions tangled up between a mother & daughter with a tenuous relationship. . BUT, with her comics, so much of it is literally laugh out loud funny. I guess a fresh set of eyes provides that perspective.
Just what I needed.

It's both real and really funny!

Roz Chast sees her parents through from their final years of semi-independent living in their apartment in Brooklyn, the one they lived in for 48 years, through assisted living and then hospice until their deaths. Roz chronicles that experience in heartbreaking and hilarious detail. I recommend it to everybody who is struggling to care for elderly parents, or has already been through that. End of life care is an expensive, exhausting, and thankless task for the caregiver, whose feelings of childhood loss and resentment come flooding back; but Roz also finds the funny side of helping her idiosyncratic and difficult parents shuffle off the mortal coil. An only child, she reflects on the life she lived with her unusual parents, and finds a lot of humor in the stuff they've hung onto all their lives, from the kitchen to the "crazy closet." I've read this three times now, and I hope for another "blast from Chast" in a future adult graphic novel.

Can't We Talk about Something More Pleasant?
View in iTunes
  • $19.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Biographies & Memoirs
  • Published: May 06, 2014
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
  • Seller: INscribe Digital
  • Print Length: 240 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Version: 3.1
  • Requirements: This book can only be viewed on an iOS device with Apple Books on iOS 12 or later, iBooks 3 or later and iOS 4.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

Customer Ratings