THE FIRST TIME I met Roz Chast in person, at Maryland’s Small Press Expo in 2011, she told me she had a very personal book in the works. It was a memoir about her parents, and Chast said she would never have published it while her parents were living. Both her parents had died in the previous four years, and now she was ready to finish creating this poignant story about her ordeal as a daughter.
“I really don’t think I could have put this book together if they were still alive,” Chast tells The Post’s Comic Riffs this week of the forthcoming work. “I think it would have been inhibiting, and also I needed a little distance on the whole experience.”
“It took a few years to put it together,” Chast continues. “I had a lot of material — the drawings of my mother at the end; cartoons about my parents from various years; photos; plus dozens and dozens of emails I’d written to friends that contained specific details that I might not have remembered otherwise, like the seven words the neurologist used to test my mother’s brain function — but didn’t know how to put it together. Plus lots of other stuff. … I was totally flummoxed and sort of blocked.
“I finally asked my shrink, who said to me, ‘How about chapters?’ I have no idea why I didn’t think of that, because it’s not like chapters are this rare, obscure thing. But that was the key, and then it began to fall into place. I knew how I wanted to start it, and we all know how it ends.”
Chast’s new memoir, “Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?”, will be published in early May — the same month that she will visit Washington’s Politics & Prose bookstore. Comic Riffs caught up with Chast to talk about a work that her editor at The New Yorker, Bob Mankoff, calls “humor from the soul.”
To read Comic Riffs’ profile of Chast (which also ran in Friday’s Style section), just click HERE.
[And to read our companion profile of New Yorker cartoon editor Bob Mankoff, click HERE.]
(courtesy of Bloomsbury)