[Book] It’s a Good Life, If You Don’t Weaken / Seth #TBR20

It’s a Good Life, If You Don’t Weaken is my fifth book read for the #TBR20 Project!

Before I go on any further, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the inspiration behind reading this book…thanks to my blogger friend, Aaron from KeepsMeAlive, and a recent blogpost he did on the Tragically Hip song that shares the very title of this graphic novel, I wouldn’t have thought to pull this one off the shelf so quickly. So, thanks for the inspiration, Aaron!


I didn’t expect to get through another #TBR20 book so quickly after finishing my last novel, but when I curl up to read a good book with a spot of peach tea and soon find that the evening has faded as I turn to the last page, that to me is a great sign of a good book.

I have no recollection of where I picked up my copy of It’s a Good Life, If You Don’t Weaken, but likely it was on a Boxing Day sale a few years ago, which is about the only time of year – once a year – when my book-buying moratorium lifts. Initially, it was the cover art that attracted me. Then, it was the book title that mirrors a Tragically Hip song’s title that drew me in! Hold the phone…this wouldn’t happen to be a graphic novel about the Hip, would it??

Alas, it is not about Gordie and the boys… but now that I finished reading It’s a Good Life, If You Don’t Weaken, I am not the least bit disappointed that it isn’t.

The story is actually about Seth, a cartoonist and collector from Toronto, who goes on a search to find drawings by an obscure cartoonist, Kalo, whom he feels was his canon cartoonist. Kalo, or Jack Kalloway, had a few of his works published in the New Yorker and Esquire magazines in the 1950s. Seth, an obsessive collector, saught to find more on Kalo – any more published works, as well as any information on whatever became of him.

Seth, for one, is mired in nostalgia, preferring the past to the future, and feeling uneasy in the present. He frequently talks to his best friend, Chet (cartoonist, Chester Brown, of Louis Riel fame) about his neuroses, and gives hints to the reader that he may be experiencing some depression. Throughout the book, we follow him as he travels solo to his childhood town of Strathroy, Ontario – coincidentally the same town Kalo moved to after a brief spell in New York, to pursue a different career path, get married and raise a family. Seth managed to track down Kalo’s daughter, Susan, through whom Seth finds out what became of Kalo. Seth also discovers some lessons on maturity in Kalo’s history: the dignity in making choices, experiencing failures, and building strength in self to accept it all.

Seth’s self-proclaimed Picture-Novella, plays out like a graphic screenplay. Every cell is meticulously drawn as if the reader is watching a movie of Seth’s experiences. He’ll hone in on one thing that is seemingly random, but yet, brings you right there on the streets of Strathroy. His masterpiece also extends to London, Ontario and Toronto; and there are certain locations from these cities some readers would recognize, such as the London train station and the Royal Ontario Museum.

It’s a Good Life, If You Don’t Weaken will suck you in from the first page. Be prepared for a great story…and some self-reflection.


The “To Be Read 20” Project, is created and hosted by Eva Stalker at evastalker.com. The goal of the project is to read through 20 books I own before buying any more books.


  1. I really enjoyed your review. I love this book, the artwork is wonderful – there’s just something about the way he draws the scenery and the buildings in it that I find really touching.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hey Sarca, you’re welcome! I tell everyone about that book, it’s so well done. The art, the story… damn. You’re lucky to own it. I’ve only ever signed out my library’s copy (several times, now). Maybe I need to see if I can find a copy when I’m in the big smoke in a couple of weeks… yes, I think it must happen, if I can find it on a deal… Amazon doesn’t stock it, but several secondary sellers do, and cheapest new copy looks to be just under $20 plus shipping… I’m thinking I can do better in the city? We’ll see…

    I’m glad you liked this book. I hope it’s one you’ll go back and read again and again. I have, and it’s always rewarding.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks Sarca! I have three places in mind to look for it, when I’m downtown on our trip. Actually, if I can’t find a copy of it in any of those places, I will be VERY surprised.


          1. Thanks for the tip! So it’s looking like $15-20 new… Have you ever been to the Beguiling? I’ve never been but it’s been recommended to me several times, I’m gonna check it out!


          2. Update: I checked two of the places I figured I’d find this book and they didn’t even have it! Ah well, I get to go back in June, so I’ll try again then!

            Also sad news: walking past just before the rain storm hit us, and saw that the World’s Biggest Bookstore is gone. I mean, levelled, it’s a big open field now. End of an era.


          3. Yeah, World’s Biggest was a destination for my Nana and me, when she was still alive. She loved that place, and I could carry all the books she bought! 😉

            I didn’t get to the Beguiling, though I was RIGHT THERE and easily could have. I was focussed on getting to College and She Said Boom and walked right past. Ah well, I assume I’ll be up there again in June, and can make a point of it. I was even in two Indigo locations and never even thought to look! I hurt my own head.


  3. To modify a Bon Jovi lyric, whoa you’re (half of) halfway there (in the TBR20 challenge)!
    I’m now singing the title’s namesake song and that could not be further from a complaint

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s