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Cartoonist Roz Chast’s new book ‘I Must Be Dreaming’

The other day I met The New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast in my dream. We weren’t on a cloud or wandering around Italy or anything. This wasn’t that kind of dream. It was the kind of dream where you’re awake and sitting in a specific place but you could be anywhere, you know? We were in a hotel lobby in Naperville, it could be a hotel lobby in Boise or a hotel lobby in Rochester. It was a place so lacking in specialness that I felt like I was forgetting where I was even sitting there. We talked in a booth.

“This is “It’s so dreamy,” he said.

Chast, who is 69 years old and spends her time between New York and Connecticut, thinks a lot about dreaming these days. The title of his new comic book is “I Must Be Dreaming,” and it’s about his dreams, the history of dreams, and theories about dreaming, and, like his comics of the last 45 years, it’s tense and grunt-inducingly direct — and look, it’s not like I have to put up with it, but this lobby In fact, it was so quiet and ordinary that we could still talk about dreams even if Chast didn’t have a new book about dreams.

He just arrived in St. It was in St. Louis and “hotel lunch service stopped at 1pm!” said.

“Strange,” I said.

“Isn’t it like a dream?! One of my recurring dreams is being in a strange town, having no papers, not knowing where I’m staying, and actually getting lost.”

When I was a child, I used to dream that I was on a sled going down hills without brakes.

“So have you ever had a dream of a plane crash? The place where a plane crashed in the distance? I look, I see you falling. I experience this so often that I turn my head when I see a plane in the sky. “I think there remains some concern there.”

He said this with polite, impassive calm, because Roz Chast, at least in a reporter’s eyes, is nothing like the things she draws; Whether it’s inanimate objects or parents, they look scared, stressed, as if coffee were free. the day he drew them. He said he had wanted to be a cartoonist since he was about 13 and had read Charles Addams in The New Yorker, but he didn’t want to do the New Yorker style of comic strips, which were single-panel and had a punch line underneath. That’s why she never did this; he favored narratives, frayed hair, and randomness—a moral compass illustration (“It depends” and “Who cares” instead of North and South), or Humpty Dumpty’s fatal decision to sit on a rug and pick it up. I pressed on (even though waiting in the fridge didn’t turn out any better).

The left turn towards dream logic has always been a constant sentiment in Chast’s comics. In his new book, he talks about how working on his weekly dispatches to The New Yorker can sometimes feel like a dream when things go smoothly. Artists often discuss the trance-like state of existence in this way in the region, so to speak. But Chast has paid great attention to dreams since she was a teenager. “Remember immediately, write it down. “I keep a notebook next to my bed because these are so temporary.” Judging by the dreams he draws in his book, he also has beautiful dreams.

In her dreams, she is happily married to Danny DeVito. She meets a one-browed leprechaun she. She encounters her father’s skeleton. He gets drunk at Mount Rushmore and insults the mountain, and everyone is shocked. He meets a very dangerous baby from the future and a SWAT team is called. Since there is a shortage of water, it flows into people’s mouths and says, “Everyone is disgusted, but either take my saliva or die.”

I dream that I lost my credit card.

Or I dream that I am in the backseat of a car and no one is driving.

“Oh, yes, these are very common,” he said. “But you’re not supposed to talk about dreams because the thought goes on, nobody cares, people just go on and on. “Most of my dreams have an element of anxiety, but they are rarely full-blown nightmares.”

Some people think that dreams are alternative planes of existence that emerge. Some think dreams are reflections of physical distress (perhaps a bad taco). Chast writes about the theory that dreams are a kind of screen protector placed to keep the juices flowing while we sleep. However, he said it connects best with Carl Jung’s ideas about dreams being a kind of collective unconscious. “Maybe we’re not all separate consciousnesses? Maybe there is something there that we don’t know about? A greater reality? “On the other hand, he was a product of his upbringing, his father was a priest, so he dreamed of thrones and angels, and if we’re all connected in some way, I never dreamed of any of that.”

We sat for a moment.

“It’s embarrassing to talk about these issues these days, but then why not? Who cares?”

cborrelli@chicagotribune.com

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