We welcome another book recommendation from Nancy Fort. Always on the eye for some new genre, she has chosen a title that was 22 weeks on NPR’s nonfiction bestseller list, Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? — this famous New Yorker cartoonist has written a book that appears to be a simple graphic novel, but is deceptively much more.
I often recommend graphic novels to parents of reluctant readers. They usually give me the look that says, “Why are you telling me to give my child a comic book to read?” At which point I stress graphic novels may stimulate a child’s love of reading by introducing them to a world beyond printed words on a page. I must admit, I generally don’t read graphic novels myself although everyone else in my family does. I recently picked up a memoir by Roz Chast entitled Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? It tells the story of the author’s relationship with her aging parents. Ms. Chast is an artist so the book is written as a graphic novel. It is a story with which many of us are familiar…grown child is raising children of her own while simultaneously meeting the increasing needs of elderly parents. The author is brutally honest about her negative feelings toward her role as caregiver for her parents. There were times when I really didn’t like her because she seemed so annoyed with her duties…almost uncaring. The redeeming part of the book for me was the illustrations. The pictures added a dimension to the characters that didn’t come through with just words. The best illustrations in the book were the sketches that the author did of her mother while she was dying. I can’t explain how moving I found those pictures and it became clear that the act of capturing her mother’s likeness helped her reconcile her feelings and accept the situation. So don’t avoid a book because it has too many pictures, it may be the pictures that make the book worthwhile.