Cartoonist Roz Chast on Can't We Talk about Something More Pleasant?

Roz Chast, beloved New Yorker cartoonist, on her latest illustrated memoir about death and aging.
Roz Chast's latest memoir is based on her experience of caring for aging parents. (RozChast.com)

Beloved New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast presents her her first illustrated memoir, Can't We Talk about Something More Pleasant? -- based on her experience of caring for aging parents. In it, she expertly chronicles the decline of her parents in their older years, her complicated relationship with them, and the often guilt-ridden and stressful task of stepping in as a caregiver.

Chast says she wrote the memoir -- a collection of photos, documents and her own drawings -- because she didn't want to forget those final years with her mother and father.

"I think I really wanted to remember what that experience of going through this with my parents was like," she says. "And also, more importantly, I wanted to to remember them. I wanted to remember their voices and what they were like."

The truth about growing old

The experience also opened the artist's eyes to the reality of what it's really like to grow old, when a person's mind and body starts to fall apart. 

"The people they choose to represent old people in these [television] ads are people generally around 60 years old. They may have gray hair or silver hair, but they're in good health, they're fine," Chast says. "The thing I didn't know anything about was the part of old age that comes after that."

Jian talks to Chast about revisiting difficult memories, walking the fine line between humour and the solemnity of death and our culture's obsession with longevity.


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