For the 2019 NEA Big Read, famed New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast’s graphic novel memoir, Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?, was selected as the topic of discussion. It is the first time a graphic novel has been chosen as the featured title in the entire 12 years of Irving’s NEA Big Read series. Copies of this precious book, a work of art to be read again and again, will be given away at our NEA Big Read events between April 9 and May 18 at and all Irving Library locations. At the heart of the book’s trembling sketches, scenes set with well-worn furnishings and understated, but expressive text, is the humble relationship between Roz Chast and her aging parents. It is as simple, yet as complicated as relationships come. Chast, has spent her whole life coming to terms with her domineering mother and passive father. At their hands, she endured many childhood indignities and adult frustrations, which Roz often uses as inspiration for her cartoons. When they can no longer live on their own in the Brooklyn apartment in which Chast was born and raised, Roz must arrange for their final years of care. However, the spirit of her mother looms large in life and death, creating a story with many flashbacks and fast forwards. Despite their many human flaws, this is a story with much love and care beneath the surface, just like the story of most families.