Ah, the graphic novel memoir. When done well, it is compelling, heartrending, and affecting. Lucky us, since there's a new addition to the comic memoir oeuvre. Roz Chast's Can't we Talk About Something More Pleasant is a witty and poignant portrait of an only child coping with the inevitable loss of her elderly parents as well as she can.
Chast's graphic style is immensely captivating, and the New York Times praises "her fondness for the exclamatory (expressed in capital letters, underlined words and multiple exclamation points) ... cranked up several notches here, and her familiar, scribbly people [going] from looking merely frazzled and put-upon to looking like the shrieking figure in Munch’s “The Scream” — panicked and terrified as they see the abyss of loss and mortality looming just up the road."
Roz Chast feels — and draws — our pain. Our neurotic worries and genuine fears, our mundane and existential anxieties, our daydreams, nightmares, insecurities and guilty regrets. Or, rather, she does such a funny, fluent job in her New Yorker cartoons of conveying the things that keep her up at night that many readers are convinced that she is somehow mapping their own inner lives.
You can also get a taster of Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant on the New Yorker's website, where they've highlighted a sample from the book. Long live the graphic novel! Long live the memoir! Long live that wonderful combination of both.