You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.


  • ePAPER

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and interactive features. Starting at just 99c for 8 weeks.


Welcome to

Your source for Clark and Champaign counties’ hometown news. All readers have free access to a limited number of stories every month.

If you are a News-Sun subscriber, please take a moment to login for unlimited access.

Cartoon memoir remembers aging parents

Every day millions of Americans aspire to do what they think is best for their aging parents. Members of the so-called Baby Boom generation are realizing that mothers and fathers who once took care of them are now needing care themselves as they grow older.

Roz Chast was raised in Brooklyn, N.Y. She was an only child. After she grew up she moved to Connecticut to nurture her own family. Her parents Elizabeth and George remained in Brooklyn in the same apartment where they had resided for many years.

If you are a regular reader of the magazine The New Yorker, you have probably seen Chast’s work. She has been publishing humorous offbeat cartoons in the magazine for many years. On Sept. 9, 2001, Chast decided that it was finally time to visit her parents again in Brooklyn.

She recounts the story of that visit and what followed in her graphic memoir “Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?” Chast justifies her long absence: “from 1990 to 2001, I had not set foot in Brooklyn once. Denial, avoidance, selfishness, laziness, and the day-to-day busyness of my life (two little kids! cartoon deadlines! grocery shopping!) were all partly to blame. But really, I just didn’t want to.”

Chast depicts this story in her exquisite cartoon form. Her parents had always been inseparable: “my parents referred to each other as ‘soul mates.’ They were born ten days apart and they grew up blocks apart in East Harlem, New York City. They were in the same fifth-grade class.

“They never dated, much less anything else’d anyone besides each other.”

Their bond was complete: “aside from WWII, work, illness, and going to the bathroom, they did everything together. My mother even washed my father’s hair for him. It’s not as if they never fought, because they did.”

Chast recalls with great affection what her parents had been like and what they became as they aged. When her mother experienced a health crisis and had be hospitalized it unmoored her father. Her parents were now in their 90s. When her mom was in the hospital she noticed that her dad was displaying signs of dementia.

Her father could not remember from one moment to the next that his wife was in the hospital. He became obsessed with their “bank books.” He was constantly worrying about ancient bank deposits at banks that no longer even existed.

We observe as her parents slowly decline. Then her dad dies. She finds a care facility for her mom. It is quite expensive. Her parents had been so frugal. This situation becomes terribly ironic. After her mom dies Chast must deal with all the junk that remained behind in her parent’s apartment.

Her parents had been products of the Great Depression. They never threw anything away. In this bittersweet and poignant tribute to her parents we discover the humor and the tragedy in this generation that had never wasted a single thing, was fiercely loyal and, in some cases, vigorously absurd. This is a lovely book.

You can hear my interview with Roz Chast this Sunday morning at 11 on WYSO (91.3-FM).

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Springfield Entertainment

Scott Baio offers condolences after co-star Erin Moran's death
Scott Baio offers condolences after co-star Erin Moran's death

Scott Baio will miss Erin Moran. On Sunday, Baio shared his condolences after hearing about the sudden death of “Joanie Loves Chachi” co-star Erin Moran. “May people remember Erin for her contagious smile, warm heart, and animal loving soul. I always hoped she could find peace in her life. God has you now, Erin,” he wrote on...
Bill O’Reilly payout could top $25 million as anchor announces new podcast
Bill O’Reilly payout could top $25 million as anchor announces new podcast

Ousted Fox News anchor Bill O’Reilly isn’t taking his termination for sexual harassment allegations lying down. After three weeks off the air and less than a week after Fox let him go, O’Reilly is returning Monday evening with a new podcast, according to his website BillO’  A banner across the top of the site...
'Happy Days' stars share condolences after Erin Moran's death
'Happy Days' stars share condolences after Erin Moran's death

Ron Howard, Henry Winkler and other stars from the cast of "Happy Days" are sharing their condolences in the wake of Erin Moran's Death. Moran portrayed Joanie Cunningham, Howard's sister on the show. She was found dead Saturday night. “Such sad sad news. RIP Erin. I’ll always choose to remember you on our show making scenes better...
‘Happy Days’ actress Erin Moran dead at 56
‘Happy Days’ actress Erin Moran dead at 56

Erin Moran, best known to TV audiences as Joanie Cunningham in “Happy Days” and its spinoff “Joanie Loves Chachi,” was found dead Saturday. She was 56. Moran played the younger sister of Richie Cunningham for the show’s 11-season run. She reprised the role in the spinoff, which only lasted a season. After the show was...
National Record Store day celebrates vinyl
National Record Store day celebrates vinyl

The plop of the record drop, the scratch of the needle finding its groove - those are just some of the memories that come to mind when you talk about record albums. >> Read more trending news   Record Store Day started as a grassroots celebration of vinyl albums by independent record store owners in 2007, with the first Record Store...
More Stories