Pick of the Week: Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant? by Roz Chast
This is a graphic memoir by Roz Chast, longtime cartoonist for the New Yorker. With words, photos and illustrations, Chast describes the experience of caring for her aging parents with brutal honesty and plenty of humor. This isn't a pleasant topic, and Chast doesn't sugarcoat anything, sharing with the reader all the emotions she went through: denial, guilt, fear, worry, anger. She begins with the first stages of her parents' gradual decline, then describes the inevitable hospital visits, the move to an assisted living facility, the clearing out of all her parents' accumulated stuff, and finally, the moments of their passing.
While this could be a really depressing tale, in the illustrated format under Chast's practiced hand, it's just wonderful black humor. And it's a story that so many of us can relate to. If you've ever had to care for an elderly relative, this book will resonate for you. Assuming the role of parent to one's parents is an uncomfortable task, and it's a relief to find a book that can make us laugh at the awkwardness of it all and feel a little bit less alone in the process. This is a bittersweet, poignant book that I'm going to go back and read again and again.