2014 National Book Award Finalist, Nonfiction

Roz Chast

Can’t We Talk about Something More Pleasant? Roz Chast, credit Bill Franzen Can’t We Talk about Something More Pleasant?


ISBN: 978-1608198061


Roz Chast’s graphic memoir about the decline of and care for her aging parents is unsparing, wrenching, and darkly hilarious. Her idiosyncratic cartoonist’s style cocoons this profound story of suffering in laughter: her domineering mother, her sweet, helpless father, the decidedly un-hip Brooklyn neighborhood where they live, the apartment they share, and the assisted living center where they go to die all come to life in vivid layers of anxiety, guilt, grime, humor, love, and sadness.


Told through four-color cartoons, family photos, and documents, Chast's memoir is both comfort and comic relief for anyone experiencing the life-altering loss of elderly parents.

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 Chast 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. A portrait of two lives at their end and an only child coping as best she can, Can't We Talk about Something More Pleasant? shows the full range of Roz Chast's talent as cartoonist and storyteller.


Roz Chast’s cartoons have been published in many magazines, including The New Yorker, Scientific American, Harvard Business Review, Redbook, and Mother Jones. She is author of Theories of Everything: Selected, Collected, and Health-Inspected Cartoons of Roz Chast, 1978-2006, a compilation of her favorite cartoons. She also illustrated The Alphabet from A to Y, with Bonus Letter, Z, the bestselling children's book by Steve Martin.

Chast’s awards and honors include honorary doctorates from Dartmouth College, Lesley University/Art Institute of Boston, and Pratt Institute. She is also a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a Montgomery Fellow at Dartmouth College.


- rozchast.com


Photo credit: Bill Franzen