BookBrowse Reviews Seek You by Kristen Radtke

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Seek You

A Journey Through American Loneliness

by Kristen Radtke

Seek You by Kristen Radtke X
Seek You by Kristen Radtke
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • Published:
    Jul 2021, 352 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Rachel Hullett
Buy This Book

About this Book

Reviews

BookBrowse:


A graphic work of nonfiction that explores the concept of loneliness through a panoply of lenses.

In the first pages of Seek You: A Journey Through American Loneliness, Kristen Radtke's sophomore work, she explains that radio operators call out across frequencies with what is known as a "CQ call," named as such because "CQ" sounds like the first syllable of sécurité, or "pay attention," in French. In English, radio users took to calling it "seek you." In this graphic work of nonfiction, Kristen Radtke explores this concept of reaching outward, turning the CQ call into a metaphorical representation of 21st century American existence.

With a muted palette of mostly blues, greens and oranges, Radtke illustrates a series of graphic essays, each devoted to a different sociological study or phenomenon or observation on loneliness. She writes about social media and technology; the artist Yayoi Kusama, known for her installations of empty rooms; the development of laugh tracks in radio and television broadcasts; the lower life expectancies of people who live alone; and, in a particularly harrowing section, Harry Harlow's cruel and controversial experiments raising baby monkeys in isolation.

Given the huge array of subjects, most of these essays only scratch the surface, but the detail in Radtke's research is still readily apparent — scientific studies are cited where relevant, multiple perspectives on the same subject are often given. The whole book coheres into a distillation of a very recognizable phenomenon: that loneliness is an epidemic in the U.S., and the stigma of shame around the emotion can lead to an even stronger feeling of isolation.

The artwork in Seek You suits the subject matter beautifully. Radtke's figures often lack expression and she uses blank space very effectively, giving the book an almost drab, dreary mood, which feels tonally appropriate given the topic. "But loneliness isn't necessarily tied to whether you have a partner or a best friend or an aspirationally active social life in which you're laughing all the time. It's a variance that rests in the space between the relationships you have and the relationships you want," she writes, and in the background, a woman sits alone on a fire escape while a group stands off to the side, chatting without her. Radtke's illustrations are often like this; it's a generic scene, not depicted with a strong specificity. There's no sense of which city the woman is in or what her relationship is to the people who are standing near her. Instead, the genericism feeds into the universality of the subject matter: she could be any woman, in any city, feeling isolated from any group of people. Thus, it represents a sensation that every reader has likely experienced at some point.

Seek You is an ambitious project, and consequently, it does become unfocused on occasion. Take the section where Radtke discusses how loneliness is often the scapegoat when there's a mass shooting — headlines focus on how the perpetrator was always "a loner," maligning a perfectly commonplace feeling. However, Radtke then derails her point by allowing the memoirist slant to take over, devoting several pages to a rant about how her husband owns a gun, which is fundamentally incompatible with her own beliefs. The balance between research and personal anecdotes is typically handled well throughout, but in some cases, Radtke's tangential experiences start to disrupt the flow of her project.

On the whole, it's a well-crafted, thought-provoking work that successfully seeks to destigmatize an emotion that plagues so many different facets of 21st-century American life.

Reviewed by Rachel Hullett

This review is from the Seek You. It first ran in the September 8, 2021 issue of BookBrowse Recommends.

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access become a member today.
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book:
  Graphic Works of Nonfiction

Join BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten.

Find out more


Today's Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: The Wrong End of the Telescope
    The Wrong End of the Telescope
    by Rabih Alameddine
    Rabih Alameddine's The Wrong End of the Telescope follows Mina, a Lebanese American doctor who ...
  • Book Jacket: Lightning Strike
    Lightning Strike
    by William Kent Krueger
    It is the summer of 1963 in Tamarack County, Minnesota. Just outside the small town of Aurora, ...
  • Book Jacket: Skinship
    Skinship
    by Yoon Choi
    The fine thing about short stories in general is their way of following characters through ...
  • Book Jacket
    The Last Mona Lisa
    by Jonathan Santlofer
    In 1911, the Mona Lisa disappeared from its home at the Louvre in Paris. It took two years for the ...

Book Club Discussion
Book Jacket
Morningside Heights
by Joshua Henkin
A tender and big-hearted novel about love in the face of loss, from the award-winning author of The World Without You.

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Flesh & Blood
    by N. West Moss

    This beautifully written memoir offers insight, understanding, and joy.

Win This Book!
Win Sisters of the Great War

Sisters of the Great War by Suzanne Feldman

A powerful novel of two unconventional American sisters who volunteer at the front during World War I.

Enter

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

Y A B Up T W T

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.