Interview with Roz Chast, Cartoon Illustrator for The New Yorker

Each week, we will post short interviews with interesting people about their thoughts and feelings on women and drinking. There is such a wide array of perspectives about this topic, and we are excited to gain insight into as many as possible and to share them with you.

Roz Chast grew up in Brookyn, New York. She has contributed cartoons to The New Yorker since 1978. She has published several collections of cartoons and illustrated many children’s books. Her latest book is Too Busy Marco, based on her pet bird. It is the first children’s book which she wrote as well as illustrated.

Drinking Diaries: How old were you when you had your first drink and what was it?

Roz Chast: I was 14. Boone’s Farm Apple Wine, with my two older cousins. It was kind of sweet and carbonated.

How did/does your family treat drinking?

Neither of my kids are big drinkers. Neither is my husband– he prefers pot to alcohol. My mother never drank; my father would nurse one or two beers throughout the day. 

How do you approach alcohol in your every day life?

With a mixture of gratitude, anticipation, caution, and guilt. I don’t like beer or hard liquor. About five nights a week, I have two glasses of wine with dinner. If I’m at a big party with a cocktail hour and a long dinner, I might have three or even four glasses over the course of the evening. But I always feel guilty about it. Then I get mad at myself for feeling guilty. It’s ridiculous.

If you have kids, how is the subject of drinking handled? Do you drink in front of them? With them?

As I said, my kids, who are now 23 and 19, are not big drinkers. I drink in front of them. They know I’m a creature of habit and generally have two glasses of wine with dinner.

Have you ever had a phase in your life when you drank more or less?

I was less definite about my two-glass limit when I was younger. I notice that as I’ve gotten older, alcohol affects me more. And feeling hung over is just the worst. 

What’s your drink of choice? Why?

Wine. I like the taste, and I like that, unlike a margarita where you don’t know if you’re drinking pure syrup or pure tequila, you know what you’re getting.

Do you have a favorite book, song, or movie about drinking?

Days of Wine and Roses.  

What about the worst time?

The first time I ever got drunk. Five screwdrivers. Not a good idea. But one learns a lot.

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