Review by Woodrow Phoenix
The Party, After You Left is a hardcover collection of cartoons and strips by Roz Chast first published in magazines including The New Yorker, Scientific American and Redbook. The usual assortment of strange musings, skewed social anxieties, inventions, recollections and ridiculous observations are in full effect, starting with the cover cartoon ‘The Party, After You Left’ which is exactly that: a mean and funny riff on the Fear Of Missing Out anxieties that plague you when there’s something going on but you aren’t there. The biggest celebrities suddenly arrive, somebody has fantastic new drugs, there’s incredibly scandalous gossip you’d wish you heard, your so-called friends are relieved because now they can enjoy themselves without you holding them back, and even the waiters at the catered event are getting in on the act: “I think it’s time we served the really good champagne”, says one. “Yeah – I’ll pour the rest of this swill into the toilet,” the other replies. It’s a redrawn version of the original cartoon reprinted inside, and if you care about such things there are lots of differences between the two that you can entertain yourself with although there’s probably nothing significant about the artistic changes.
Inside, the page edges are darkened and yellowed to give the book that musty, discovered feel of an old assortment of cartoons. Among the gems are such items as a Hoax Ethnic Food cart, a more extreme version of all those vendors found on New York street corners selling strange-looking foods from places you have never heard of. This cart boasts “New York’s only Kwzntueäāian Cuisine”. The menu items are painted on the side. “Thirsty? Reach for a ØMTXIXN!” says one image showing a mysterious canned beverage. There’s a bowl of soup labelled “RBØØØTKU – just like Momma’s” and it’s only three dollars. How can you resist?
Quite a lot of the work selected here has been reprinted in Theories of Everything: Selected, Collected, and Health-Inspected Cartoons, 1978-2006. There are no page numbers so you’ll never work out exactly how much, but if you buy that generously-sized collection, you probably won’t need this one as well.