On Our Bookshelves — Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?

BOOK: Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?

AUTHOR: Roz Chast



Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant is a bracingly, no, make that a brutally honest memoir of the decline of Roz Chast’s aging parents.  George and Elizabeth Chast — to whom this book is dedicated — had a difficult relationship with their only daughter.  Roz Chast, writer and cartoonist, blames the problems on both generational differences and clashing personalities; in any event, her parents refused, for a very long time, to talk about aging, to admit they needed help, or to discuss plans for their future.  Eventually, things reached a crisis point.


What is not to be found here: peace, contentment, closure, family harmony, reconciliations, optimism, sentimentality, a pure and uncomplicated love, patience, the support of a large and giving extended family, the wisdom that comes with age, forgiveness of past trauma, a healing final conversation, hipster Brooklyn, beauty, heartwarming deathbed scenes, or dignity.

What is to be found here: cartoons, text, photographs, grime, frustration, exhaustion, conflicted feelings, wit, duty, loyalty, humor, truth, anger, dysfunction, small moments of grace, worries about money, worries about everything, aggravation, gruesome physical realities, guilt, selfishness, bitterness, sadness, panic, stress, affection, confusion, things left unsaid, disorder, paranoia, denial, incompetence, the Brooklyn of people who have been left behind, fraility, and imperfect, flawed, love.


It is exceedingly original, and exceedingly well done, both emotionally shattering and laugh-out-loud funny, often on the very same page.  It’s the very stuff of life, and may well hit closer to home than you’d think.


RATING (one to five whistles, with five being the best): 4 Whistles





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Laura LaVelle is an attorney and writer who lives in Connecticut, in a not quite 100-year-old house, along with her husband, two daughters, and a cockatiel.

Laura can be contacted at laura@newswhistle.com


Book Cover Courtesy of Bloomsbury USA