Cartoonist and author is Big Read keynote

Cartoonist and author is Big Read keynote

Roz Chast


The highlight of the NEA Big Read 2020 in Western Stark County will be the keynote address by New Yorker magazine cartoonist Roz Chast, who wrote the graphic memoir, “Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?” — this year’s book selection.

The free virtual program will be televised on MCTV Channels 21 and 621 at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 12. It also will be posted on the museum’s Facebook and YouTube channels. The keynote is sponsored by Danbury Senior Living in Massillon.

Free copies of this year’s book selection can be picked up at the museum as long as the supply lasts. MassMu is open Tuesday through Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 2-5 p.m. A reader’s guide is available at to enhance understanding of the book.

Chast’s work has appeared in magazines through the year including The Village Voice, National Lampoon, Scientific American, Harvard Business Review, Redbook and Mother Jones, but she is most closely associated with The New Yorker.

Chast attended the Rhode Island School of Design, where she studied painting. After graduating in 1977 she returned to New York City, where she established her cartooning career. In addition to collections of her New Yorker cartoons, Chast has written and illustrated a range of books. Her latest is “Why Don’t You Write My Eulogy Now So I Can Correct It? A Mother’s Suggestions” with Patty Marx (Celadon Books, April 2019).

“Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?” (2014), the illustrated story of facing end-of-life issues with her parents, won a National Book Critics Circle Award, earned the inaugural Kirkus prize for nonfiction and was shortlisted for a National Book Award.

The museum will distribute 1,300 free copies of “Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?” MassMu’s NEA Big Read 2020 has generated more than 40 corresponding virtual and live events in collaboration with its programming partners — Massillon Public Library, Massillon Washington High School, Stark Parks, Walsh University, Community Hospice, Stark County District Library, United Way of Greater Stark County, Soroptimist International of Canton/Stark County, Strauss Furniture, OSU-ATI Wooster and Canton Palace Theatre.

Massillon is one of just 78 communities nationally to secure the program for the 2019-20 grant cycle. The Massillon Museum is one of two Ohio institutions to receive a share of the funding for this grant cycle. The 2020 project marks the 13th year the National Endowment for the Arts has granted funding for the Massillon Museum’s participation.

The NEA Big Read, the largest federal literature program since the WPA, is an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts designed to restore reading to the center of American culture. It presents the NEA Big Read in partnership with the Institute of Museum and Library Services; the program is managed by Arts Midwest.

The Big Read brings together partners across the country to encourage reading for pleasure and enlightenment. Individual communities may choose from among two-dozen book selections from American and world literature.

The NEA Big Read provides citizens with the opportunity to read and discuss a single book within their communities. It supports organizations across the country in developing community-wide reading programs that encourage reading and participation by diverse audiences. Organizations selected to participate in the NEA Big Read receive a grant, access to online training resources and opportunities, and educational and promotional materials designed to support widespread community involvement.

In addition to the NEA grant, funding is provided by Massillon/North Canton Elks #2029 and Rotary Club of Massillon. Greif Paper Mill on Warmington Road in Massillon is sponsoring the “Cut Up/Cut Out” exhibition; Danbury Senior Living in Massillon is underwriting the keynote address.

The Massillon Museum receives operating support from the Ohio Arts Council and ArtsinStark to augment its primary local funding, marketing support from Visit Canton, and grants from Ohio Humanities and the National Endowment for the Humanities to sustain programs during COVID-19.

The Massillon Museum is located at 121 Lincoln Way E. in downtown Massillon. Free parking is available on adjacent streets and in nearby city lots.

For more information about the NEA Big Read, call the Massillon Museum at 330-833-4061 or visit or A visit to the Massillon Museum is always free.

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