Monday, April 20, 2015

Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant?

One of the best reads I've had in recent weeks was Roz Chast's Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant?

This memoir is told in graphic form (that is, heavily illustrated). It's a true story about parents and adult children (or in this case, one adult child), about aging and the end of life, about caregiving and obligations. It's about family: the ways in which our relatives amuse and exasperate us, the ways in which we care for one another. This book is hard hitting. While there's some humor here, the ending is inevitable and Chast doesn't flinch from it (at least, not on the page, whatever emotions she had to cope with in real life at the time). We know exactly where this story is going. There are readers who will find this book to be too close to home, those who find the reality of their own caregiving obligations or mortality to be quite enough already; this book isn't for them. There are readers who will prefer to "talk about something more pleasant," and who can blame them? But there will also be readers who need this book for its bracing realism, for the relief that raw honesty often brings. I'm in the latter category. A week after finishing this book and going on to read others, I'm still thinking about this memoir.

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