Ryan's Reviews > It's a Good Life, If You Don't Weaken: A Picture Novella

It's a Good Life, If You Don't Weaken by Seth
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's review
Feb 11, 12

Read from February 07 to 11, 2012

Nick Mount did a wonderful lecture on this novella through the Big Idea's podcast network on iTunes, and, either fortunately or unfortunately I chanced to listen to it before I cracked this book open. The setup Mount creates for this book is rather ostentatious, citing it as the 'best graphic novel around', referencing its many awards and literary status in the annals of Canadian literary culture. Perhaps, in my case, the gauntlet of these words weighed too heavily on my mind as I first dove into this work by the seemingly neurotic Seth, and I was intimidated by the grandiose atmosphere. In other words, my expectations were unrealistic, which is not to say that the novel didn't entertain and wasn't enjoyable. On the contrary, I thoroughly enjoyed Seth’s biographical character, and there are times when I sare his particular world view. I remember having a conversation with my father while doing the dishes and lamenting that there just wasn't any good music anymore. Everything of significance was already recorded making the music of today nothing but hollow crap churned out by a unfeeling and talentless money machine. I was about 9 years old. Additionally, having been on the receiving end of insults much like the 'Dick Tracey' scene I have responded with the same "I hate people" attitude as well as a regret that I have nothing to say in return. (side note...is it odd that the kids used a comic reference to insult Seth?)
Coming back to my original line of thinking, the novel is one whose prestige has preceded itself and I am a little embarrassed to admit that I don't get 'it'. Specifically, I don't understand the subtleties of the ending and the whole disagreement on the death of Kalo between the mother and the daughter. I can understand nostalgia, obsession and the difficulty of creating and maintaining human social relationships, but why the little mystery in the end? Is this a proof that Seth hinted at all along, that we can never really go back, we can never really truly reach the past and some of us have a hard time dealing with that fact? I feel like this novel has meant so much to the culture of Canada and its literary merits have rocked the world of graphic novels, but to me it is nothing but an annoying little ending that I can't help but focus on, and indeed, have nothing of significance to comment about. Much like being insulted without a comeback, I have this feeling that the novel is some great significant body of work and my inability to truly understand it makes It's a Good Life an insult directed at me. Or perhaps, more accurately, an inside joke that I'm not allowed to be a part of. I will dive into the reviews on this website and see if anyone can share my distain, or can shed some light on the umbra of my ignorance.

As weird as it is to feel embarrassed and wallow in the opinion that his book and the entire Canadian literary culture is laughing specifically at me, it is a wonderful thing to have an element of the novel stick in my brain like an abscessed kitty tooth. I find that novels, or music, or movies or whatever that have something about them that challenges me in a way that causes a “well, I don’t think I like that, but I can’t stop thinking about it” are the pieces of works that I end up liking the most.
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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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message 1: by Susan (new)

Susan Have you ever thought about doing this (reviewing books) for a living?

Ryan Would love too :) I got a taste in University and I have been interested ever since...I am always looking for an opportunity, but, you know how it is, I don't feel like I have the time to peruse this for money right now. But at least there is this wonderful website where I can practice. :)

Ryan Humm...just read over the Forever review and it seems like I am spouting off reviews like a broken record. 'I don't understand", "I am left with a frustrating question", "Significant work" are common themes. Either I stumbled into a coincidence of novels, or I am going to have to try a little harder to come up with something original next time.

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