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Can't We Talk about Something More Pleasant?: A Memoir Kindle Edition
|Length: 228 pages|
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* (BTW, don't buy the Kindle version. This title, with its colorful cartoons and photos - as well as its handsome construction as a hardcover book - truly belongs on your coffee table. I sampled the Kindle version, didn't like it, and bought the hardcover.)
* This book feels weirdly clairvoyant. It exposed my doubts, fears and paradoxical feelings about watching my parents die slowly before my eyes. I've read almost everything about the subject of aging and dying. And yet this is the first book that captures the exhausting experience of caring for aging parents, e.g., that it's sometimes gross - (see passages about hoarding, incontinence and "grime") - AND funny - (see "The Wheel of Doom" and Roz Chast's father's obsession with myriad bank books, decades old).
* The author's hand-wringing about whether there's going to be enough money to pay for her parents' care is spot on. How long will the money last if they live "X" more years vs. "Y" more years? I do these calculations every month, constantly updating and trying to prepare for the worst. Any savings will be drained by expenses which will have no effect on terminal outcomes. If the daily care and feeding of your parents doesn't kill you - then the avalanche of paperwork and legal stuff that must be done - will.
* Hence despite the preference to "talk about something more pleasant," if nothing else, this book demonstrates why planning for our parents' end-of-life care must begin NOW - not later.
* I recommend this book for every person who's on the brink of going insane about their aging parents. Give it to caregivers, give it to your siblings, give it to anyone who hates dark subjects - but who can handle them if they're presented in a disarmingly funny style that's accessible - yet still honest. (I don't think I can read another "text-only" book about the "death spiral" of aging parents.)
* In sum, "Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant?" takes the hard edges off some things while inflicting blunt-force traumas about others. Roz Chast nails the impending death of our parents in a way that feels like a landmark work. I know such praise sounds silly given the sea of excellent books out there about aging. But I've never seen this subject presented in an original, humorous and touching way, complete with hand-drawn illustrations and color photos. It avoids the trap of being overly optimistic, forcing us to confront the gruesomeness of mortality - while STILL providing an emotional "lift" about something universal.
* This book makes going through one of the darkest periods of my life - feel almost worth it.
This is a difficult book to read. It must have been excruciating to live through and then put down on paper. But it is a book that all us "boomers" (hate the word but what else is there? "Lunch meat in the sandwich generation"?) should read. Because I'm not sure too much is going to change when we reach our 80's and 90's. We tend to have fewer children - Roz was an only child, as I noted above - and so fewer people to share the burdens of us as we age. Will we be put in Assisted Living "places" with the alacrity we seem to be putting our own parents into? For the record, both my parents died in nursing homes where they received excellent care.
Roz Chast's parents - George and Elizabeth - lived well into their 90's. And they aged "together". They tried to take care of themselves and each other in their dingy Brooklyn apartment, but it came the time to get them the extra care they could no longer give themselves. Roz describes how going through her parents' vacated apartment was like going through a junk store haven. And she shows photographs - as well as using her drawings - to show how crowded the apartment truly was.
The reader may come away thinking Roz had conflicted feelings about her parents. She sure did and she was certainly entitled to those feelings. I laughed a bit in parts, but I was able to appreciate her words and deeds because I had frequently felt the same way with my own parents, particularly as they aged. As death took the Chasts - two years apart - Roz seemed to have come to terms with these strange people who had given birth and raised her.
Chast's book is a very "personal" book which will resonate with a lot of people.
Most recent customer reviews
writer and illustrator. One of the best.