NNLM Reading Club: End of Life
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Discussion Guide for Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant?: A Memoir
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Spanning the last several years of their lives and told through four-color cartoons, family photos, and documents, and a narrative as rife with laughs as it is with tears, Chast's memoir is both comfort and comic relief for anyone experiencing the life-altering loss of elderly parents. When it came to her elderly mother and father, Roz held to the practices of denial, avoidance, and distraction. But when Elizabeth Chast climbed a ladder to locate an old souvenir from the “crazy closet”-with predictable results-the tools that had served Roz well through her parents' seventies, eighties, and into their early nineties could no longer be deployed. While the particulars are Chast-ian in their idiosyncrasies-an anxious father who had relied heavily on his wife for stability as he slipped into dementia and a former assistant principal mother whose overbearing personality had sidelined Roz for decades-the themes are universal: adult children accepting a parental role; aging and unstable parents leaving a family home for an institution; dealing with uncomfortable physical intimacies; managing logistics; and hiring strangers to provide the most personal care.
#1 New York Times Bestseller | 2014 National Book Award Finalist | 2014 Kirkus Prize in nonfiction | National Book Critics Circle Award | 2014 Books for a Better Life Award
Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant? | Roz Chast | Bloomsbury USA | 2016 reprint | 228 pages | ISBN: 978-1632861016
Roz Chast was born in Brooklyn, New York. Her cartoons began appearing in the New Yorker in 1978. Since then she has published hundreds of cartoons and written or illustrated more than a dozen books. Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant? is her first memoir.