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Roz Chast Drags Us Kicking, Screaming, and Laughing, Into the Land of the Infirm

A conversation with the cartoonist who, in a new graphic memoir, finds humor and pathos in her parents’ last years

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Roz Chast talks with Julie Subrin on April 23, 2014.(Pejk Malinovski)

Roz Chast is best known for her New Yorker comics—colorful and witty depictions of everyday humiliations and grievances. Often those come at the hands of the people closest to her: family members. In Chast’s newest book, a graphic memoir called Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?, she tells the story of her parents. In particular, she looks back at how, as an only child, she dealt with their steep decline at the end of their lives—with love and sadness, but also with frustration and guilt. It’s a poignant and often unexpectedly hilarious account and one that confronts head-on a dilemma most of us will face at some point if we haven’t already: figuring out what to do with an elderly relative who can no longer look after him- or herself.

Vox Tablet’s Julie Subrin visits with Chast in her Connecticut home to talk about Chast’s reasons for delving into this depressing terrain and how the daughter of two extremely high-strung and rather humorless Depression-scarred parents stuck in the backwaters of Jewish Brooklyn became a successful and very funny cartoon artist.

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‘Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?’

Excerpted from a new memoir by Roz Chast
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