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

Cant We Talk AboutBOOK REVIEW

I read this great, informative book after hearing the author, New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast, interviewed by Terry Gross on NPR’s “Fresh Air” in 2014. You can listen to the interview here . Chast bravely speaks of what she experienced as her parents aged, became ill, and passed away. The title reflects Chasts’ father’s refrain whenever the subject of death and dying came up in the family’s conversations.

Amazon Review:

An honest memoir of watching her parents decline, become too frail to stay in the Brooklyn apartment they called home for five decades, suffer dementia and physical depletion, and die in their nineties in a hospice-care facility. Unlike many recent parent-focused cartoon memoirs, such as Alison Bechdel’s Are You My Mother? (2012) and Nicole J. George’s Calling Dr. Laura (2012), in which the story is as much about the cartoonist’s current work and family life as it is about his or her parents, Chast keeps her narrative tightly focused on her mother and father and her own problematic—though not uncommon—guilt-provoking relationships with them. Chast’s hallmark quirky sketches are complemented by annotated photos from her own and her parents’ childhoods. Occasionally, her hand-printed text will take up more than a full page, but it’s neatly wound into accompanying panels or episodes. An unflinching look at the struggles facing adult children of aging parents.

2014 National Book Award Finalist
Winner of the inaugural 2014 Kirkus Prize in nonfiction
Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award
Winner of the 2014 Books for a Better Life Award
Winner of the 2015 Reuben Award from National Cartoonists Society


This memoir brings both comfort and comic relief to the life-altering loss of elderly parents, and all that comes before that – the aging, illness, potential need to move from their familiar home. We are not alone in this and it is so very helpful to know that others are going through the very same: adult children accepting a parental role; dealing with uncomfortable physical situations; and hiring strangers to provide the most personal care.  If you’d like to purchase the book through my affiliate link, you can do so here.

Our blog posts illustrate how integral and helpful end of life doulas are as an aid to the dying, but also to those who love and care for the dying. Death is a natural, shared experience, a process that does not need to be fraught with confusion, shame and guilt.

If you have read a book, heard an interview, or seen a movie that has helped you through the difficulty of losing a loved one, share it via our contact page and we may review it in a future blog post – thanks!

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