There’s Nothing More Pleasant


I sat down to read Roz Chast’s Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? before bed last night and didn’t get up until I finished it, which I never, ever do. I like to tell people at parties that “I don’t read,” at least not for pleasure, anyway, because 90% of my life is already reading — — the internet, your pitches, Twitter, my work — — so when I want to relax, the last thing I want to do is read, are you kidding? Anyway, I’ve been working on changing that, because just because the internet is garbage and your pitches are abundant (thank you, I love you guys) and Twitter is constant and my work is okay doesn’t mean that I have to shut myself off from the greatness held within the canon of great literature!!!!!

So I bought Chast’s book and let it sit on my nightstand for weeks, a treat for myself only to be opened after I finished my book club book (still on page 200); last night I said, “what the hey,” and got myself totally wrapped up and enamored and frustrated and lost in Chast’s relationship with her parents. The illustrated memoir is a tale of a how an only child prepares for her parents’ imminent deaths, but at its core, it’s about deep, abiding, complex love, both between Chast’s parents (her father, George, was a docile and doting man who never learned how to use a toaster; her mother, Elizabeth, was aggressive and doled out “a blast from Chast” any time one of her detractors deserved one), who make a good case as any for the idea that people cannot live without each other, and between Chast and her parents. Rarely do we see a love that’s so tested; I identified fully. The entire book is a work of art, but the line drawings of her mother near death — — uncomplicated, detached — — are gorgeous and unforgiving. I was on the last page when my boyfriend came to bed (men are the worst) and I immediately shushed him. “Don’t say anything,” I said, without looking up. “I don’t want to leave this world.”