'Displacement': The Frustrations, Fears And Absurdities Of A Cruise Upended

April 8, 2015 6:57 PM

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This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross. When Lucy Knisley offered to accompany her grandparents on the Caribbean cruise they'd signed up for through their senior living facility, she had no idea what she was getting herself into. Her grandparents live in a different city than Lucy does. So the cruise seemed like a nice opportunity to spend more time with them, while escaping winter for a few days. But her grandparents' health was worse than her visits had revealed. They were suffering from dementia, incontinence, asthma and more. Rather than spending some quality time with her grandparents, she basically spent 10 days keeping them alive. That trip is the subject of Knisley's new cartoon memoir "Displacement." It's the second travel memoir she's published in the last year. The first, "An Age Of License," was about Knisley's trip to Europe in her mid-20s and the romance she had while traveling. As Knisley says, the trip to Europe was about independence, sex, youth and adventure. The cruise was about patience, care, mortality, respect, sympathy and love. Lucy Knisley spoke with FRESH AIR producer Sam Briger.

BRIGER: So how much time had you'd been spending with your grandparents before this? Did you have a real sense of what their condition was mentally and physically?

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