book #2: funny and sad


Can’t We Talk about Something More Pleasant? was a National Book Award finalist, a National Book Critics Circle winner and won a host of other awards. The author, Roz Chast, is a cartoonist and this memoir is written in that format, so it’s a quick read, though not always easy. I heard her discussing the book – I think on C-SPAN – several years ago (it was published in 2014) … long before my mother announced she was moving in with me. 

Roz and I have very different relationships with our mothers and different life experiences, but it comes as no surprise that there is much to learn from and appreciate in this book. Regardless of who the players are, there are certain commonalities when it comes to caring for elderly parents. We all cope, perhaps in different ways, and we all process everything that has happened in our lives. Whether it is clearing out our parent’s house or walking down memory lane via hundreds of old photographs, there is a way in which our lives are drawn into focus over hours and hours of sorting and reflecting on, well, pretty much everything.

The book is very funny and I laughed out loud in several places. I was reminded of how lucky I am that I get along with my mother and that she was proactive in sorting out her own life before I had to do it for her. Mom moved into an apartment when she retired from work – at age 75. So, although I did the manual labor, she weighed in on what she wanted to keep and what would go (I describe this more in a prior post, clearing out and letting go). Still, there is something invasive about having someone going through your stuff. I cannot imagine having to go through all of this with someone, even a parent, who is really difficult to manage. Mom can be stubborn sometimes, but at least we always work through the challenging parts … and there are lots of them!

If you are not fond of “angry” humor or have difficulty when people don’t get along, this may not be the book for you, but I really enjoyed it. While it described what awful things may come, it was a great release that made me appreciate what I have.


2 thoughts on “book #2: funny and sad

  1. Mary jarvis May 12, 2018 / 11:06 am

    Susan – I always read about what you write about your mother – I miss her, nice to know how she is doing – which seems to be great w/you at her side. Not many are so blessed. She had a hard time sometimes and you are her angel. I am sorry I haven’t written (will try to do better) – I haven’t been feeling so good myself w/mostly the arthritis – hard getting around now – getting out, etc. – but, I do w/the cane. Perhaps she knows that Tom left the priesthood or maybe not – as that may break her heart. She made so many things for him to wear as a priest.
    Tell her I think of her often – at church and going by Duncan Donuts. Mary


    • alphacatonline June 10, 2018 / 5:42 pm

      Hi Mary, this is so strange – I just replied to your comment but it didn’t register! So, here we go again … apologies that it took a while to approve this post – I approved it on my phone but it didn’t seem to “take”. I’ve been taking a little break because of other things on my plate. I’m sad to hear that you haven’t been well – that arthritis is challenging, as my mother can attest. She doesn’t get out much either because it is hard to get around. She knows that Tom is in the process of leaving the priesthood – the official process takes a little time. She wants him to be happy, so if the priesthood ends up not being a good fit, she hopes he finds what he is looking for. Will let her know that you think of her often. She thinks of you and her other friends up North – wishes she could still go to Dunkin’ Donuts and shopping and lunch and all the other places she used to go. Nothing will ever replace those things in her heart, so we do the best we can to enjoy what we have. Best, Susan


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