Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?

Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant


In her first memoir, Roz Chast brings her signature wit to the topic of aging parents. 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.

An amazing portrait of two lives at their end and an only child coping as best she can, “Can't We Talk about Something More Pleasant” will show the full range of Roz Chast's talent as cartoonist and storyteller.  (Summary and cover courtesy of


This was a book that was both tragic and hilarious at the same time.  The author tells the steady decline and process of her parent’s last few years in a way that could be relatable to anyone.  I loved her honesty in how she reacted to many of the difficult discussions that she just didn’t want to face at the end.  That being said, I was surprised there wasn’t more about her parents before their decline, or about herself.  In that sense, though telling the gritty details about the last few years, it almost felt detached in some ways.  I never felt invested in the situation though I could empathize.  All in all, the book was intriguing and I couldn’t put it down!

Rating: 4 stars!

Who should read it? Everyone should give it a read to understand the often terrifying implications that come with old age.