Imagine Wanting Only This is a quiet, searching story, both emotional and intellectual. The illustrations are beautiful, and I lingered over them. I will reread it, because though I have finished it, I am not done. Recommended By Britt A., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
A gorgeous graphic memoir about loss, love, and confronting grief.
When Kristen Radtke was in college, the sudden death of a beloved uncle and the sight of an abandoned mining town after his funeral marked the beginning moments of a lifelong fascination with ruins and with people and places left behind. Over time, this fascination deepened until it triggered a journey around the world in search of ruined places. Now, in this genre-smashing graphic memoir, she leads us through deserted cities in the American Midwest, an Icelandic town buried in volcanic ash, islands in the Philippines, New York City, and the delicate passageways of the human heart. Along the way, we learn about her family and a rare genetic heart disease that has been passed down through generations, and revisit tragic events in America’s past.
A narrative that is at once narrative and factual, historical and personal, Radtke’s stunning illustrations and piercing text never shy away from the big questions: Why are we here, and what will we leave behind?
(With black-and-white illustrations throughout; part of the Pantheon Graphic Novel series)
"The most beautiful graphic novel you’ll read all year, Kristen Radtke’s memoir is an absolutely stunning look at what it is to recover from grief, and is so haunting you’ll be thinking about it for days after reading it.... At once narrative and factual, historical and personal, Radtke’s stunning illustrations and piercing text never shy away from the big questions: Why are we here, and what will we leave behind?" Newsweek (Best of the Week)
"Brilliant.... The book is a family drama, youthful romance, obsessive adventure, and karmic inquiry wrapped in a coming-of-age tale. It’s [Radtke’s] thumbnail history of left-behind people and places, and a wondrous panel-by-panel archive of the interplay between her rapacious intellect and her expansive imagination.... In places, the commingled pictorial and written narrative flows like a film, like a dreamscape, like the river of time itself. It’s Radtke’s quietly erudite, observant language... that grounds her intricate and dramatic drawings. But maps, photographs, medical charts, newspaper clippings, and a free-floating Sharpie embedded in the almost 300-page book enhance the storytelling as they surprise and delight." Elle
"One of the most haunting graphic memoirs I’ve ever read.... As we turn the pages on [Radtke’s] journey, we are ravaged and ravished. There is a proud tradition of graphic memoirists — of those dually equipped to wield word and image — to tell the true and deeply considered story of a life. Alison Bechdel, Roz Chast, Riad Sattouf, David Small, Marjane Satrapi, Art Spiegelman and others have done it searingly well. Add now to that list Radtke, who proves herself an equal among equals with this debut book.... Radtke’s imagination can’t help itself. Her final pages are unapologetic; they are forecasts. They force the reader to confront the world as the world might soon be. Did you really just do that, Kristen Radtke? I said the words out loud, the first time I finished reading Imagine Wanting Only This. Are you allowed? To disarm us, to charm us, to goad us, to frighten us, to end this book the way you do? But I have just read this book again, and indeed Radtke pulls no punches; her work is as wonderful and heartbreaking the second time through. I’m still scooped out, but I’m still deeply grateful for the towering power of Radtke’s vision." Beth Kephart, Chicago Tribune
Writer illustrator and editor Radtke’s graphic memoir does something difficult within just a few minimally designed emotional pages: she transforms the over studied experience of being a talented artist stuck in that yearning gulf between college’s purpose and life’s demands into something unique and thuddingly real. Starting with a bracing trip she takes as a Chicago art student into a ruined Gary Ind. cathedral and framing her story with the sometimes panicky fatalism that comes with a dangerous heart defect Radtke unspools a ruminative narrative about searching for meaning in an impermanent world. The focus on entropy decay and randomness would be grim and borderline pretentious if it weren’t delivered with an unusually forthright honesty and deft Chris Marker–esque ability to parse out meaning and wonder from the smallest details. Though the story of her investigative journey into decay around the world resonates it is flattened by artwork that oddly enough has almost no sense of place. (Apr.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved."
About the Author
Kristen Radtke is a writer and illustrator based in Brooklyn. Her graphic memoir, Imagine Wanting Only This, is forthcoming from Pantheon Books in April.
She is the managing editor of Sarabande Books and the film & video editor of TriQuarterly magazine. She has an MFA from the University of Iowa's Nonfiction Writing Program.
Kristen Radtke on PowellsBooks.Blog
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