Posts from 2015-04-14

Book Review: Can't We Talk about Something More Pleasant?: A Memoir Roz Chast


I put off reading this book for a long time. Sure, it was a 2014 National Book award finalist and I had read many gushing reviews. But graphic novels are not one of my favorite genres, and memoirs are. I was skeptical of the concept of a graphic memoir about aging.

Yet I found Chast’s memoir to be substantive, honest, deeply moving and scathingly funny. A New Yorker cartoonist, Chast brings to bear her skills of incisive observation and wit to portray her ideas compactly. She engages the reader in the relatable story of people who we come to know in ways that are both universal and instructive, in keeping with some of the best traditions of memoir. 

Through delightful and expressive drawings combined with handwritten passages, Chast writes about her upbringing - but mostly the period of her parents’ decline. It was surprisingly hilarious, painfully poignant and at times, even oddly uplifting.  In a word, it is full of contradictions - not unlike the life passage it depicts. 

A book I was reluctant to read, but basically inhaled and now find myself recommending to all my friends.