Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant?

I think I've heard of this book before. But I'm not really quite sure where. Maybe one of my friends on Goodreads at some stage, but I've recently been watching quite a bit of Booktube- a little corner of Youtube where people blog about the books they read, the books they love, the books they buy- it's very entertaining, but not good at all for cutting down on your TBR, or getting much reading done to be honest.

One of my favourite book tubers that I've discovered recently is Russell from Ink and Paper Blog. I've gone back and watched most of his videos, which isn't as difficult as it sounds as Russell is relatively new to Booktube. Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant? featured in a video from March 11 2017 Meeting Baxter & 5 Books I Think You Should Know About! and it prompted me to get the book from my library and pick it up. I'm so glad that I did because I really loved it.

Roz Chast is an American cartoonist, and staff cartoonist at The New Yorker. Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant? is a graphic memoir largely dealing with her parents in the later stages of their lives. Roz grew up in Brooklyn, an only child, her parents born in America of Russian Jewish emigres. Her mother was a force of nature, an assistant principal in an elementary school, her father, an anxious man had been a high school language teacher who spoke five languages.

My father chain-worried the way others might chain-smoke. He never learned to drive, swim, ride a bicycle, or change a lightbulb. 
My mother was  a different thing. She was a perfectionist who saw things in black and white. Where my father was tentative and gentle, she was critical and uncompromising. 

Roz had a somewhat protected, cosseted childhood, and felt closer to her father than her mother.

Naturally of course her parents begin to age, to need help to stay in their own home, to have falls. Of course, as with many older people they are fiercely independent, and want to stay in their own home no matter what. 

More so her parents don't want to openly discuss their situation, their aging, and their inevitable final illnesses and death.

I don't think I've ever mentioned my day job here before, but it is one that involves end of life discussions on a very regular, and at times daily basis. These are such important discussions for any family to have, and can ease the way both for the older person and for other family members who will be left behind. It is so important for everyone to be on the same page, and have realistic expectations of what is to come. 

I particularly enjoyed Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant? Both in terms of the subject matter, Roz's family, her parents, their personalities and relationships, their progressive decline and also the actual book- the graphic memoir style, the look and feel of the artwork, but also the prose sections, the photos, the language and the humour. It's wonderful. I'm so glad Russell recommended it. 


I'm Deb Nance at Readerbuzz said...

No one talks about death in America. I have a friend whose mother-in-law has been in rehab facilities for months with all sorts of tubes and machines. Her vital signs were weak last weekend and they told the family to come visit. Still no mention of death.

Louise said...

I find that particularly astonishing, although I think you've told me that before. I feel for your friends family.