Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? A ‘Conversation’ With Roz Chast

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Roz Chast
Roz Chast

Cartoonist and author, Roz Chast has had more than 1,000 of her cartoons published in The New Yorker, since 1978, as well as published in The Village Voice, Scientific American and The Harvard Business Review. Chast has joined the NYCB Theatre at Westbury Conversations series. The moderated discussion with audience Q&A will take place on Thursday, Dec. 3, at 8 p.m. with a book signing to follow.

Chast is known for her cast of recurring characters—generally hapless but relatively cheerful “every-folk.” In her cartoons, she addresses the issues of our time: guilt, anxiety, aging, families, friends, money, real estate, and as she would say, “much, much more!”

In her first memoir, Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?, the Brooklyn cartoonist brings her signature wit to the topic of aging parents, walking the line between poignancy and humor as she tells the personal story of her parents’ final years.

When it came to her elderly mother and father, Chast held to the practices of denial, avoidance, and distraction. But when her mother, Elizabeth, climbed a ladder to locate an old souvenir from the “crazy closet”—with predictable results—the tools that had served Chast well through her parents’ 70s, 80s, and into their early-90s could no longer be deployed.

While the particulars are Chast-ian in their idiosyncrasies—an anxious father who had relied heavily on his wife for stability as he slipped into dementia and a former assistant principal mother whose overbearing personality had sidelined Chast for decades—the themes are universal: adult children accepting a parental role; aging and unstable parents leaving a family home for an institution; dealing with uncomfortable physical intimacies; managing logistics; and hiring strangers to provide the most personal care.

Cant's We Talk About Something More Pleasant? by Roz Chast
Cant’s We Talk About Something More Pleasant? by Roz Chast

An amazing portrait of two lives at their end and an only child coping as best she can, Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?, shows the full range of Chast’s talent as a cartoonist and a storyteller.

Can’t We Talk about Something More Pleasant? is a New York Times 2014 Top Ten Best Book of the Year, 2014 National Book Award Finalist, the winner of the 2014 Kirkus Prize, and a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle awards for the best books of 2014.

She recently collaborated with Steve Martin on the children’s book The Alphabet from A to Y with Bonus Letter Z! published by Random House. Her children’s book, Too Busy Marco, was published by Simon & Schuster and released in the Fall of 2010. The sequel, Marco Goes to School was released in 2012. Her book for adults, What I Hate: From A – Z was published by Bloomsbury in October 2011. She has illustrated a book with songwriter Stephen Merritt called 101 Two-Letter Words published in fall 2014.

Tickets for the NYCB Conversations series are $19.50 and $39.50. A limited number of tickets at $99 are available for a VIP reception. Additionally, a $20 student/educator ticket price is also available using password “Conversation”. Tickets are available at www.ticketmaster.com, charge by phone at 800-745-3000 or at the Westbury box office (box office opens at 12:30 p.m.). All tickets are subject to service charges. Events, dates and times are subject to change. Visit www.thetheatreatwestbury.com for more information. Visit www.rozchast.com for more about Chast and her work.

Editor’s note: The Conversation with Roz Chast show was originally scheduled for Thursday, Aug. 20, at 8 p.m. at NYCB Westbury. It has been postponed until Dec. 3.

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