Booklist praises JOE OLLMANN’S work in MID-LIFE

Booklist Review - Mid-Life

Booklist    |    Keir Graff    |    April 15, 2011

You don’t have to be a twice-married 40-year-old man with a baby son, two grown daughters, and three
old cats to enjoy this, but if you are, Ollmann’s no-holds-barred grapple with man’s propensity for self-aggrandizement,
self-deception, and self-loathing may have uncanny resonance. In this fictionalized
memoir, Canadian art director John Olsen is suffering from “middle-age parent syndrome” and screwing
up at work and at home. He develops a crush on a children’s performer and takes a business trip to New
York, where he may or may not cheat on his wife. This modest arc comprises an utterly compelling drama.
The push and pull between John’s internal narrative and outward actions is exquisitely painful, especially
for those of us—and that would be all of us—who think one thing and do another. John wants to be a
better person, but he’s in danger of being defeated by his own gift for rationalization. The black-and-white,
nine-panel-grid artwork shows influences from R. Crumb to Daniel Clowes (think sweat) but is definitely
Ollmann’s own, and his warts-and-all character renderings are a perfect complement to this warts-and-all
tale. Blemishes included, this is memoir at its best because the specifics are universal, not mere

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