Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Can't We Talk about Something More Pleasant?

What I try to do with reviews at this Bookshelf blog is keep it simple and spoiler-free, and let you know whether I'd recommend you pick up a copy of what I just read. Seems to work okay. This time, a brief review of Can't We Talk about Something More Pleasant? (Bloomsbury, 2014).

My father's gone, my mother just had back surgery and is looking for a smaller house, and Roz Chast's Can't We Talk about Something More Pleasant? scared the heebie-jeebies out of me.

I haven't read any new Chast in a little while now, and came to this new book - which is an absolutely gorgeous hardback, all purple and beautiful - expecting her usual light whimsy. Now, don't get me wrong. This book is terrific and funny and lovely, but it also accomplishes something that Chast has not done before. It left me sobered and worried and troubled. Her parents lived into their nineties in a very small apartment home with few friends and contacts and hit a massive, downhill deterioration. They refused to consider their futures, leading to a lot of poor decisions and a huge financial burden on her family.

This memoir of their final years is really amusing in places, and heartfelt and warm throughout, even when she's detailing her loudmouthed mother's "blasts from Chast" or her father's decline into dementia and amnesia. I can't recommend it strongly enough, but it also reminds me of how very much I'd prefer to talk about something more pleasant myself. So if you'll excuse me, I'll go write about barbecue somewhere else now.

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