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Narrating Aging and Death in Can't We Talk about Something More Pleasant?

Authors
Bang, I.S.
Issue Date
Sep-2022
Publisher
English Language and Literature Association of Korea
Keywords
autobiography studies; death; graphic memoir; old age; Roz Chast
Citation
Journal of English Language and Literature, v.68, no.3, pp 535 - 557
Pages
23
Journal Title
Journal of English Language and Literature
Volume
68
Number
3
Start Page
535
End Page
557
URI
https://scholarworks.sookmyung.ac.kr/handle/2020.sw.sookmyung/152436
DOI
10.15794/jell.2022.68.3.001
ISSN
1016-2283
2465-8545
Abstract
In her graphic memoir, Can't We Talk about Something More Pleasant? (2014), Roz Chast chronicles disturbing issues of aging and death by recalling that of her own parents. Using an ironical narrative technique in the form of comics to look back on the last years of her parents, Chast not only expands the territory of graphic novels, but also redefines the conventional radius of life writings. Unlike the mainstream life writings that primarily focus on public figures' prime times, Chast, in her narrative of conscious aging, articulates what it means to be frail and old That is, Chast, by employing texts, images, and photos among others, probes into the end of one's life through the painful lens of observing her parents' death. With death looming in front of them, her parents recognize the mortality of their own life and gradually become Being-towards-death They change abstract time into an opportunity to be fully responsible for their own existence. As the only caregiver for her dying parents and an artist representing their last days with an ethnographic gesture, Chast confesses that she could experience death only through the demise of her parents. To explain the different conceptions of time represented in this graphic memoir, critical discourses on life, death, and time by Martin Heidegger and Emmanuel Levinas have been used. One's old age inevitably accompanies illness, disability, and eventually death; Chast in her graphic memoir, however, argues that this period allows us to reconsider life's circle anew by expanding the frontiers of life narratives. Copyright © 2022 ELLAK.
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