Roz Chast | Non-Fiction
At various time in the last two weeks, I rated this book one heart, two hearts, three hearts and four hearts! I finally settled on four hearts because frankly, I couldn’t put it down.
This was the first foray into graphic novels, for most of us in my book club, The Casting Crew. And Roz Chast is a master! The topic of the book is quite sobering … it chronicles the death of her parents, who are well into their nineties when they die. Chast’s writing, and even more, her AMAZING illustrations, really communicate with brutal honesty the funny, incisive and often painful experiences of these years. You’ll witness laughter, rage, hysteria, love, despair, guilt, and roll-on-the-floor antics. If you don’t recognize a bit of your mom or your dad or a grandparent or a friend’s parent in this tale, then you will likely recognize a bit of yourself.
While, yes, it was difficult to read at times when comments, stories or drawings cut too close to home, Chast inspired a profound conversation in book club about parents and our own thoughts about death. You will choose olives and not red sweaters for her dad. You’ll watch her mom eat a tuna sandwich at a striking time. And, of course, you will fulfill the title over and over again, as her parents had NO intention of ever talking about anything like death, dying, illness, hospitals, leaving their apartment or, for heaven's sake, "Rest Home Prisons.”
I am excited to try another graphic novel. If you haven’t ventured into the genre yet, these books are not Archie revisited. The illustrations add so much depth to the story – when you can see the expressions on the faces of the characters, you experience their veracity in a way that words alone often fail to do. A picture truly is worth 1000 words ... at least with Roz Chast’s talent.