CAN’T WE TALK ABOUT SOMETHING MORE PLEASANT?

A Memoir

Roz Chast

Through words and illustrations, with evident pain and remarkable humor, Roz Chast revisits the struggle she went through with her aging parents as their physical and mental abilities gradually declined and they eventually became unable to care for themselves.

Through words and illustrations, with evident pain and remarkable humor, Roz Chast revisits the struggle she went through with her aging parents as their physical and mental abilities gradually declined and they eventually became unable to care for themselves.

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  • Bloomsbury USA
  • Hardcover
  • May 2014
  • 240 Pages
  • 9781608198061

Buy the Book

$28.00

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  • Bloomsbury USA
  • Paperback
  • September 2016
  • 240 Pages
  • 9781632861016

Buy the Book

$19.00

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About Roz Chast

Roz Chast grew up in Brooklyn. She has been a cartoonist for the New Yorker since 1978, and has written and illustrated several books. Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? won the 2014 National Book Critics Circle Award, the 2014 Kirkus Prize in nonfiction, and was a finalist for the National Book Award. It was also named one of the Best Books of 2014 by more than fifty media outlets, including People, Oprah.com, and National Public Radio.

Praise

“This extraordinarily honest, searing and hilarious graphic memoir captures (and helps relieve) the unbelievable stress that results when the tables turn and grown children are left taking care of their parents.”—San Francisco Chronicle

“Gut-wrenching and laugh-aloud funny. I want to recommend it to everyone I know who has elderly parents, or might have them someday.” —Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

“One of the great autobiographical memoirs of our time.”—Buffalo News

Discussion Questions

1. Have you had a similar discussion with your parents and/or children about aging and long-term care plans? What was the result? At what age do you think parents and children should have this conversation?

2. Which part(s) of the book, if any, could you relate to the most? Did you find yourself empathizing more with George and Elizabeth, or Roz? Did this change as you progressed through the book?

3. Which aspects of the role reversal Chast depicts—the child assuming a caretaker role—were the most striking to you? What emotions did you experience as you were reading about the challenges Roz, George, and Elizabeth all faced?

4. Whose experience is more frightening to you—George and Elizabeth’s, or Roz’s?

5. Which parts of the memoir made you laugh? Which made you cry? Did Chast’s use of humor surprise you? Do you think it’s necessary or inappropriate to approach this type of subject with humor?

6. Did your perceptions of George and Elizabeth as parents, spouses, and people in general change as the book went on? If so, in what ways?

7. In your opinion, what is the greatest loss that George and Elizabeth experience as they age?

8. Have you considered your own end-of-life plans? Why or why not? Was the book informational for you, and if so, what did you learn? Has reading this book changed your thinking about your own end-of-life care?

9. What is your opinion of Roz’s decision to keep her parents’ ashes in her closet?

10. Chast discusses at length her complicated feelings regarding her mother, and how her relationship with her mother differed greatly from the one she had with her father. Do you think this has an impact on Roz’s approach to her parents’ end-of-life care? Do you think Elizabeth was a good mother? Do you think Roz was a good daughter?

11. Toward the end of the book, Roz struggles with the financial cost of her mother’s care, compounded by the fact that she’s “not living and not dying.” What are your views regarding this hardship, and her mother’s condition?