This is Vox Tablet, the weekly podcast of Tablet Magazine, the online Jewish arts and culture magazine that used to be known as Nextbook.org. Our archive of podcasts is available on our site, tablet2015.wpengine.com. Vox Tablet, hosted by Sara Ivry, varies widely in subject matter and sound -- one week it's a conversation with novelist Michael Chabon, theater critic Alisa Solomon, or anthropologist Ruth Behar. Another week brings the listener to "the etrog man" hocking his wares at a fruit-juice stand in a Jersualem market. Or into the hotel room with poet and rock musician David Berman an hour before he and his band, Silver Jews, head over to their next gig. Recent guests include Alex Ross, Shalom Auslander, Aline K. Crumb, Howard Jacobson, and the late Norman Mailer.
Roz Chast Drags Us Kicking, Screaming, and Laughing, Into the Land of the Infirm
[Podcast audio below.] Roz Chast is best known for her New Yorker comics—colorful and witty depictions of everyday humiliations and grievances. Often those come at the hands of the people closest to her: family members. In Chast’s recent book, a graphic memoir called Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? that has rightfully earned a place on many annual lists of the year’s best new non-fiction, she tells the story of her parents. In particular, she looks back at how, as an only child, she dealt with their steep decline at the end of their lives—with love and sadness, but also with frustration and guilt. It’s a poignant and often unexpectedly hilarious account and one that confronts head-on a dilemma most of us will face at some point if we haven’t already: figuring out what to do with an elderly relative who can no longer look after him- or herself.
Vox Tablet’s Julie Subrin visited with Chast in her Connecticut home last spring to talk about Chast’s reasons for delving into this depressing terrain and how the daughter of two extremely high-strung and rather humorless Depression-scarred parents stuck in the backwaters of Jewish Brooklyn became a successful and very funny cartoon artist.
This story was originally published on May 6, 2014.