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  • NYS Writers Institute

A chat with Roz Chast, beloved "New Yorker" cartoonist

During this time of high anxiety, we chatted with Roz Chast, beloved New Yorker cartoonist and preeminent non-scientific expert on the subject of anxiety.

“My rabies fear started with To Kill a Mockingbird, the same way my appendicitis fear started with Madeline, and my brain tumor fear started with Death Be Not Proud. On an ideal planet, children's books wouldn't be censored for references to sex, but for illness.”

― Roz Chast, What I Hate: From A to Z

Roz uses the title "Fear and Loathing" as a subject category for a significant portion of her life's work.

Here's her cartoon, "How is Your Terror Today?" from the March 24, 2020 issue of The New Yorker:

Roz visited the University at Albany in November 2017 with former New Yorker cartoon editor and cartoonist Bob Mankoff.

Q: How are you coping with anxiety during these strange days?

A: Trying to take it a day at a time. I've always worked at home and alone, so in some ways, this hasn't changed my daily life as much as it's changed for people who work outside the home.

Q: Do you get out much?

A: No, but I try to take a walk every day so my legs don't turn to overcooked spaghetti when this is over.

Q: Do you have advice for University students on how to make the best use of their time?

A: I hate that kind of thing, "best use of time." It actually makes me more anxious than I already am.

Q: Anything you're reading now?

A: The Magic Mountain (Thomas Mann) for the second time. I love that book.

Q: Any other favorite books you'd like us to read?

A: The Talented Mr. Ripley (Patricia Highsmith). The Strange Life of Ivan Osokin (P.D. Ouspensky). Stoner (John Williams). Underworld (Don Delillo). Lincoln in the Bardo (George Saunders).

Anything by Edith Wharton: as in ANYTHING. Any of the Best American Comics series. I'll stop now.

“Many terrible things begin with B: blindness, boilers, bats, bridges, and brain tumors. But no one brings any of those to a party to up the fun quotient. When I look at a balloon, all I see is an imminent explosion. Where's the fun in that?” ― Roz Chast, What I Hate: From A to Z

More Roz Chast:

"Roz Chast: Cartoon Memoirs" an online site of a 2015 exhibit at the Norman Rockwell Museum.

"Rockwell Museum features work of cartoonist Roz Chast," by Amy Biancolli, Albany Times Union, July 2, 2015

"Scenes from the life of Roz Chast," by Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker, December 23, 2019

"For a Professional Phobic, the Scariest Night of All," by Penelope Green, The New York Times, October 26, 2006


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