Local Fictionality within Global Nonfiction: Roz Chast's Why Can't We Talk about Something More Pleasant?


  • Jim Phelan



Parole chiave:

Fictionality, fiction/non-fiction, rhetoric, audience, graphic narrative, Roz Chast


This essay deploys a rhetorical approach to fictionality (defined as intentionally signaled communication in narrative) in order to analyze Roz Chast’s various uses of local fictionality within her graphic memoir about her parents’ end-of-life experiences. In so doing, it extends the contribution Chast’s memoir makes to the understanding of the many facets of end-of-life experiences for patients and their families by unpacking significant details of her exploration of her own experiences. The essay also contributes to conversations about the fiction/nonfiction distinction by (a) highlighting the presence of the narrative audience in fiction and its absence in local uses of fictionality in global nonfiction and (b) showing that the presence of local fictionality can enhance an author’s communication about actual events. Finally, the essay offers a preliminary and partial taxonomy of fictionality within the genre of graphic narrative.

Riferimenti bibliografici

Chast, Roz. Why Can’t We Talk about Something More Pleasant? New York: Bloomsbury, 2014. Print.

Cohn, Dorrit. The Distinction of Fiction. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1998. Print.

Nielsen, Henrik Skov, James Phelan, and Richard Walsh. “Ten Theses about Fictionality.” Narrative 23.1 (2015): 61-73. Print.

Nielsen, Henrik Skov and Simon Zetterberg Gjerlevsen. “Distinguishing Fictionality.” Cindie Maagard, Marianne Wolff Lundholt, and Daniel Schäbler, eds. Fictionality and Factuality: Blurred Borders in Narrations of Identity. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter (forthcoming). Print.

Phelan, James. Narrative as Rhetoric. Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 1996. Print.

---. Somebody Telling Somebody Else: Toward a Rhetorical Poetics of Narrative. Columbus; Ohio State University Press (forthcoming). Print.




Come citare

Phelan, J. (2016). Local Fictionality within Global Nonfiction: Roz Chast’s Why Can’t We Talk about Something More Pleasant?. ENTHYMEMA, (16), 18–31. https://doi.org/10.13130/2037-2426/7473



Narrative and Medicine