What a unique and wonderful thing is this book. I can’t think of anything I’ve ever read that is like it, and in a world of same old same old, that really struck me.
Roz Chast, best known as a cartoonist for the New Yorker magazine, clearly thinks in pictures, so this graphic novel medium works perfectly for her story. Although there is a narrative, it is more like a series of snapshots. On the one hand this memoir is incredibly depressing — it is the story of a woman who is tasked with caring for her elderly parents who have a host of physical and dementia-related mental problems. On the other, there are moments of laugh out loud funny. Her raw, unflinching look at herself and her parents both in her memories and during the arc of the story is refreshing. There is no whitewashing here — she is taking pictures, selfies, almost, and no matter what kind of unflattering angle the pictures turn out to have she puts it down anyway because it is accurate. Mostly they are drawn pictures, but there are some actual photographs as well.
She really pulls off a coup as an author – it is next to impossible to both break your heart and make you laugh uncontrollably and the ridiculousness of the situation, and yet she manages to do it.
I like that none of the text is typewritten. The text, whether in a balloon in a cartoon panel, or a page of narrative, is all in Chast’s neat but imperfect handwriting. It made it feel more intimate to me, like she was writing me personally a letter telling me about what happened rather than some polished piece of prose for general audiences. Since it is such an intimate story, the intimate telling makes it that much better.
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Lori B. Duff is the author of the Amazon ‘Hot New Release’ Mismatched Shoes and Upside Down Pizza, a collection of autobiographical humor essays. The hard copy of the book can be found on Amazon & BarnesandNoble.com and select local retailers. The e-book can be found here. You can follow her on Twitter at @LoriBDuff and on Facebook. For more blogs written by Lori, click here. For more information about Lori in general, click here. If you want Lori to do your writing for you, click here.