Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.

Support the Forward

Funded by readers like you DonateSubscribe
Forward 50 2014

Roz Chast

“When your parents are dying, it’s not like a baby, where people want to come over and play with the baby. Somebody comes over and brings you a little onesie or stretchy…. What are they going to do — bring Depends? Or a case of Ensure?”

That’s Roz Chast, 59, perhaps best known for her cartoons that have appeared in The New Yorker since 1978, talking to the Forward about her May 2014 book, “Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?”

Consisting of handwritten text, cartoons and photos, the graphic memoir is a moving yet honest homage to her parents, who spent their lives in Brooklyn. Her father was a teacher, anxious and intellectual, while she describes her mother, an assistant principal, as a dominant personality. Sounds stereotypically Jewish? “But it’s true,” said Chast.

The book deals with “the journey we took together into the last part of their lives.” By not shying away from topics such as senile dementia, the cost of elder care, and Chast’s own feeling of exhaustion and guilt, the work is a poignant commentary on society’s approach to old age and fear of death.

Chast, a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design, has written or illustrated more than a dozen books; most recently, in September, she illustrated “101 Two-Letter Words,” for which singer-songwriter Stephin Merritt wrote poems for every two-letter word allowed in Scrabble.

“Can’t We Talk…?” was named a finalist in the nonfiction category of the National Book Award, which made Chast the first cartoonist to receive the honor.

Drawing The Last Chapter from Jewish Daily Forward on Vimeo.

Engage

  • SHARE YOUR FEEDBACK

  • UPCOMING EVENT

    SKY & SCULPTURE

    Hybrid: Online and at the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan

    Oct 2, 2022

    6:30 pm ET · 

    A Sukkah, IMKHA, created by artist Tobi Kahn, for the Marlene Meyerson JCC of Manhattan is an installation consisting of 13 interrelated sculpted painted wooden panels, constituting a single work of art. Join for a panel discussion with Rabbi Joanna Samuels, Chief Executive Director of the Marlene Meyerson JCC of Manhattan, Talya Zax, Innovation Editor of the Forward, and Tobi Kahn, Artist. Moderated by Mattie Kahn.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.