New book by Roz Chast

I Must be Dreaming

Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing

Release date: October 24, 2023.


This delightful graphic account from New Yorker regular and National Book Critics Circle Award winner Chast (Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?) is both a reflection on the nature of dreaming and the creative process, and a catalog of her own vivid, loopy dreams. Dreaming, for Chast, is the ultimate accessible entertainment: “I am creating them. So why, as they unfold, am I always so surprised?!?!” She categorizes and draws episodes including “Cartoon Idea Dreams” (not a huge surprise given her daytime occupation), “Body Horror Dreams” (relatable), “Everyday Dreams” (skewed quotidian scenarios), and fragments, like “something about a leprechaun with a unibrow.”


Chast also leads readers on a trip through dream theories across the ages, from ancient Greece and Egypt to the Kabbalah, Freud and Jung’s interpretations, and modern evolutionary neuroscience. The cartoonist is not particularly spiritual or mystical in her approach, and doesn’t consider dreams as prophecies: “Somebody always knows somebody whose aunt dreamed that somebody’s plane was going to crash, so they didn’t take the plane, and GUESS WHAT CRASHED,” Chast observes, unimpressed. Yet she’s also saddened by “rabidly scientific” analyses. Her loose-lined drawings, full of people with duck feet and unnerved facial expressions, bring to life the illogical leaps of her own dreams (“Nan Goldin filming a commercial for an ice cream cake”) and others’ (like her son’s dream about a painting of a leg with three long creepy hairs). Chast perfectly captures the weird joy of dreaming—an act that is both universal and deeply personal. 

October 24, 2023