The work of Roz Chast is one of the things that makes me very, very happy. Her scratchy little people, with their hopeless clothes, questionable posture, and ongoing existential dilemmas, are reminders to me that a certain strain of America continues, one nearly subsumed by mass media and Walmart. Bright, puzzled, well-intended, of a kind likely to subscribe to The New Yorker but not to show up at the more experimental first nights or daunting restaurants profiled therein, they are in some ways the stateside cartoon counterparts of the characters who populate the world of Alan Bennett. Let's just say I identify with their constant surprise at what the universe throws at them.
Roz aside (and why aren't there more Rozes in the world, and what can we do to encourage them?), it's a fierce, fierce birthday day, kids - she shares her celebrations with an intimidating array that runs from Her Imperial Majesty Maria Feodorovna, last Dowager Empress of all the Russias (and her niece, the signficantly mousier Maud of Norway) to Her Imperial Majesty, Miss Tina Turner. Also in the running: Supreme fifth wheel Jean Terrell, delightfully oleaginous belter Robert Goulet, and Lindbergh-baby ultrabaddy Bruno Hauptmann.