Friday, January 2, 2015

Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant? by Roz Chast



Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant?
by Roz Chast
Bloomsbury USA, 2014
240 pages
source: borrowed from the library


Well I certainly didn't expect this to happen... revealing my first book of the year and  reviewing it at the same time! That mysterious system known as inter-library loan actually selected the book for me and, since we're leaving for Florida in a week, I needed to read and return it ASAP.

I've enjoyed Roz Chast's cartoons in The New Yorker for decades and when her first memoir began appearing on "Best of" lists everywhere, I knew I had to read it.

As it turns out, the notoriety is well-deserved. A 2014 National Book Award finalist, this graphic memoir, composed of illustrations, photos, and text, addresses a topic all of us must deal with at some point  - the aging and death of our parents.

Chast does not sugar-coat her experience. She is honest and candid about her childhood, her relationship with her parents, and the challenge of dealing with their increasing physical and emotional needs, as well as the associated financial worries.

This book is not especially pleasant or uplifting, but it will make you think, perhaps begin to formulate a plan, or at least nudge you into discussion with your parents.

Highly recommended.

My rating:

37 comments:

  1. Glad to see another good review of this one! I have it on hold at the library right now and keep wishing it would get here quicker.

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    1. Shannon - Hope you get it soon... it's a very good book!

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  2. This sounds like something I'd find interesting. My parents, especially my mom now is at an age and personality issues where she's getting harder to take care of. Maybe it would help me in my own struggles with dealing with this.

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    1. Darlene - I know so many people dealing with these issues... you might appreciate her perspective.

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  3. This sounds interesting though not at all pleasant! I know when my husband's parents died we really weren't prepared for the sheer enormity of dealing with everything. My parents are relatively young but I'm an only child so everything will end up falling to me. Thanks for sharing this one and I'm glad you enjoyed your first book of the year!

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    1. Katherine - Chast is also an only child, so no siblings to share responsibilities. Thankfully, I have five brothers and sisters... and healthy parents.

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  4. I went so far as to get this from the library, but after flipping through it and seeing how depressing it seemed, I decided I wasn't in the mood!

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    1. Jill - It certainly isn't cheerful...

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  5. I.. am hesitant. Ever since knowing I was going to have a baby and then having one I am super aware of the fact that my parents will one day die. And I find it so difficult to deal with. So perhaps this book would be just the right thing. Or it might not be at all.

    Apparently, I cannot log in (ir keeps listing me as anonymous) but this would be irisonbooks.

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    1. Iris - Becoming a parent does make you think more about mortality, but I'm not sure if the book would help or depress you. Sorry blogger is being difficult with comments... it's nice to see you!

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  6. I found this book really moving and thought-provoking. Her mother is such a strong, and sometimes disturbing character, who just dominated the story - I guess like she did her family.

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    1. Lisa - Her mother certainly was larger than life, but it must have been difficult to grow up with her.

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  7. It's been selling like crazy! I might have to take a look at it on my lunch break. Have a great trip! ��☺

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    1. Les - I'm a big fan of her cartoons and the book is visually very appealing. Tough subject matter though! One more week of snow and cold :)

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  8. My mom is very open about everything so we've got things covered with her. Carl's dad is a whole other story. This book sounds great!

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    1. Kathy - Everyone is so different! This book could certainly be used to start a conversation.

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  9. I usually like graphic memoirs and this is an important topic. I'm so lucky that my parents are up front and very on the ball, so no worries on that account.

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    1. Beth F - I usually like graphic memoirs, too, but didn't read any in 2014. Glad I started this year with one.

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  10. I have this one waiting for me at the library! I do think it is a depressing topic, but a necessary one to explore. My parents are still in good health yet just starting to have age-related conditions so it's something that's been on my mind. Happy New Year!

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    1. Anbolyn - I'll be curious to hear what you think of this. It is depressing, but an important topic.

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  11. I've already gone through all this with my parents. It was a tough few years. And, of course, now I miss them like crazy. My husband's mother and stepdad are moving on into this phase of life. I'm delighted that I won't be the one having to make the decisions. It's a timely topic, I think.

    Wanted to stop by and say hello to you, JoAnn. It's been a long time since I've participated in the blogging world. I have a new blog - kay's reading life - and I invite you to visit. Have a great time in Florida and look forward to chatting books and life with you again!

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    1. Kay - It's so good to see you and I'm thrilled that you are blogging again! I look forward to catching up :)

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  12. This made my Most Compelling Books of 2014 list. It was so moving, and something most of us will face.

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    1. Diane - This could easily become my most compelling book of 2015!

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  13. The aging and fragility of parents is up close and personal in my life. I think it would be wise of me to read it, to not bury my face against the inevitable. But, for now, I will take note of the fact that this book exists as surely I will need it someday.

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  14. Nuts, I love her cartoons and was hoping for funny! Like Bellezza, this is up close and personal for me as well, but I also know that it's so helpful to share stories and know that we're not alone in this. I'll look for the book!

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    1. Audrey - I love her cartoons, too, but this is definitely not funny. An important read though...

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  15. I bought this almost as soon as I read about it. I love her work. And even though sad, I still want to read it. She is just the best as far as I'm concerned. Her drawings, her wit, - love her!

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    1. Nan - Roz Chast is so talented. Now she's given us quite an important book.

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  16. Oh golly, I clearly was not reading reviews of this very carefully...for some reason I thought it was funny!

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    1. Lisa - No, not funny in the least, but it's still a very good book.

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  17. I just started hearing about this book recently and was wondering what it is like, so I am glad to read your review! I will have to look for it.

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    1. Athira - This is a good one! Hope you get a chance to take a look at it.

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  18. Definitely a difficult topic. My heart especially goes out to the families where parents have long-term illness or suffer from Alzheimers or similar for years. It is clearly very draining.

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    1. Christy - I'm glad to see the topic in such an accessible format. Chast does a great job with this book!

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  19. My husband read this book, and he shared pieces of it with me. Funny and sad. There was certainly a lot we could relate to, as we are going through this stuff with his parents. Nice review!

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