Summary and book reviews of Seek You by Kristen Radtke

Seek You

A Journey Through American Loneliness

by Kristen Radtke

Seek You by Kristen Radtke X
Seek You by Kristen Radtke
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     Not Yet Rated
  • Published:
    Jul 2021, 352 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Rachel Hullett
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About this Book

Book Summary

From the acclaimed author of Imagine Wanting Only This - a timely and moving meditation on isolation and longing, both as individuals and as a society.

There is a silent epidemic in America: loneliness. Shameful to talk about and often misunderstood, loneliness is everywhere, from the most major of metropolises to the smallest of towns.

In Seek You, Kristen Radtke's wide-ranging exploration of our inner lives and public selves, Radtke digs into the ways in which we attempt to feel closer to one another, and the distance that remains. Through the lenses of gender and violence, technology and art, Radtke ushers us through a history of loneliness and longing, and shares what feels impossible to share.

Ranging from the invention of the laugh-track to the rise of Instagram, the bootstrap-pulling cowboy to the brutal experiments of Harry Harlow, Radtke investigates why we engage with each other, and what we risk when we turn away. With her distinctive, emotionally-charged drawings and deeply empathetic prose, Kristen Radtke masterfully shines a light on some of our most vulnerable and sublime moments, and asks how we might keep the spaces between us from splitting entirely.

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

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. It is an ambitious project, and consequently, it does become unfocused on occasion. On the whole, though, 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...continued

Full Review Members Only (572 words).

(Reviewed by Rachel Hullett).

Media Reviews

Los Angeles Times
[A] resonant, haunting volume of graphic nonfiction written and drawn in the key of Edward Hopper.

Vogue
Rarely has nonfiction been as topical as in Kristen Radtke's wide-ranging exploration of loneliness...Radtke expertly traces the cultural origins of loneliness...posing the question: what, specifically, do we lose—as individuals, and as a society—when we turn inward?

LitHub
A meditation on isolation and longing, examines the silent epidemic of loneliness in America, from the invention of the laugh-track to the unethical experiments of Harry Harlow. Radtke is a writer of enviable emotional intelligence, and one of our most elegant and virtuosic artists of devastation.

The Atlantic
[A] generous reading of other people and their loneliness is what Radtke's book seems to call for—a willingness to read loneliness where we might otherwise see monstrosity, to read love where we see loneliness.

New York Times Book Review
Radtke's aesthetic is impressive, with clean, crisp black lines, swaths of white shadow and stylized, muted blocks of color. She has a designer's eye for arresting graphics... . . Gorgeous.

Washington Post
We slowly emerge from a long pandemic, and writer-illustrator Radtke sees us, all of us, in our various forms of isolation. This stunning book is less a memoir than a long graphic essay, more a meditation and less a solution. How we disconnect may help us understand how to ultimately connect.

Chicago Tribune
Kristen Radtke... . has written and drawn an excellent new book — a graphic essay of sorts — that's expansive in its approach to loneliness... . Seek You takes the form of a kind of lyrical probe, starting with the biological then moving in concentric circles, drawing in pop culture, sociology and history, widening the lens.

Publishers Weekly (starred review)
[A] gripping graphic investigation...For a treatise about the perils of being alone, it creates a wonderful sense of being drawn into conversation.

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
Radtke is an engaging and thoughtful guide through our fear of being alone. Superb. A rigorous, vulnerable book on a subject that is too often neglected.

Booklist (starred review)
In graphic-essay style, Radtke centers her inquiry around four human behaviors—listen, watch, click, and touch—and devotes rich, meandering chapters to each...Radtke's crisp, vector-drawn illustrations more than hint at reality; rather, in their layering and arrangement, they seem to reproduce it in truer, more emotional detail. Provocative and companionable, this will spark conversation and, undoubtedly, connection among readers.

Library Journal (starred review)
In often poetic prose accompanied by stunning illustration, Radtke weaves together personal anecdotes and examples drawn from physical and mental health studies to create a meditation on the causes and cost of isolation...An insightful and compassionate investigation of loneliness.

Author Blurb Lauren Groff, author of Florida
Seek You stunned me. Kristen Radtke, one of the best of our literary artists, shines her brilliant light into modern America's experiment in loneliness with this supremely elegant and devastating book. It was my companion during a long, dark night of the soul; I emerged grateful to have had such sleekness and wit, such calm intelligence, to guide me back to daylight.

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Beyond the Book

Graphic Works of Nonfiction

Although the term "graphic novel" implies works of fiction, lists of popular graphic novels are often dominated by memoirs and other nonfiction. You can find one such list here, and a short history of the genre here.

Since there is no widely used or non-cumbersome term for these books ("graphic works of nonfiction" probably coming the closest), they're often grouped in with fictional graphic novels. Titles like Maus by Art Spiegelman, Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi, and Fun Home by Alison Bechdel — all memoirs — are some of the most popular "graphic novels" that come to mind when discussing the genre.

But there's also a wealth of graphic nonfiction outside of these noteworthy titles, covering a wide range of subgenres ...

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