Roz Chast's graphic memoir, Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant? chronicles the autobiographical subject's strained-but-loving relationship with her parents as they enter the final stage of their lives. Perhaps two reasons this memoir has received so much critical attention is because Chast dares to broach the difficult subject of death with surprising honesty and because of the effectiveness with which she uses comics to capture physical, cognitive, and emotional decline associated with aging. While Chast's drawings depict the inevitability of death and allow her to assert more agency over her past than Roz felt she had as a child, her use of multiple, stacked narrators, and what I call graphic dialogism, destabilize the notion that comics are a simple medium separate from "real" art. Changing representations of death, from a generic caricature to a posthumously published portrait of Roz's mother, mark shifts in the narrator's perspective on dying. Although there are legitimate concerns about thanatography with regards to the ethics of writing about vulnerable subjects, these concerns and criticism are balanced by the therapeutic potential of Chast's memoir.


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pp. 215-235
Launched on MUSE
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