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by Joe Ollman (Drawn & Quarterly)

To summarize Joe Ollman’s latest graphic novel Mid-Life as the story of a 40-something man going through a mid-life crisis would be to over-simplify the complexities that can bring anyone to the point of asking “How did I get here?” It is never just one simple decision or left turn, but a series of events that converge coupled with the prospect of seeing one’s idealism and dreams dissolve into complacency and acceptance. Through the book’s protagonist, John Olsen---the father of two adult kids from a failed first marriage, a new three-year old from his second, and three cats---we get to experience that internal struggle. And it is to Joe Ollman’s credit that his turmoil is portrayed with great acuity. I only wish the secondary narratives---the children’s songwriter who, dealing with her own crisis, laments not making “adult music,” and the voice of John’s younger wife, were given the same sensitivity and not painted with broad (simplistic) brush strokes. But regardless, Mid- Life is a funny and compelling read which is ultimately tremendously satisfying.

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