The world is a scary place. Roz Chast latest book, What I Hate: from A to Z, is her alphabetic exploration of her panaphobic panoply of paranoia-inducing pictures. Her fears run the gamut of the familiar (heights, getting lost, and nightmares) to the unusual (spontaneous human combustion, balloons, and Jello 1-2-3). Each entry has a short introduction opposite the illustrated page. There are single panels and other pages cluttered with details. In one introduction, she explains her fear of rabies originating in children’s literature. She writes, “On an ideal planet, children’s books wouldn’t be censored for references to sex, but for illness.” The opposite page shows a psychotic dog staring at the reader. A man in the background offers tepid advice, “His bark is worse than his bite.” A woman says, “He loves people.”
For those who enjoy a bit of schadenfreude, What I Hate is a quick fun read. While Chast espouses an especially grim outlook, one needn’t possess her omnipresent anxieties to take pleasure in the witty cartoons. One should handle the book carefully, since one might get a nasty paper cut or have one of its sharp edges poke an eye out. That is, if one survives the trip to the local bookstore without getting hit by a bus, abducted by aliens, or trampled by zebras.