From the author of Imagine Wanting Only This, a meditation on isolation and longing, both as individuals and as a society, digging into the ways in which we attempt to feel closer to one another, and the distance that remains.
Kristen Radtke's Seek You: A Journey Through American Loneliness defies categorization—and it does so in spectacular fashion. At once a memoir, a personal essay about loneliness, an exploration of the science of solitude and its effects, and an invitation to come together in a world built to separate us, Seek You looks at isolation as a problem and investigates where it comes from, how it shapes us, and why we should battle against it ... In Seek You, Radtke's cuts to the marrow of our inner lives as well as our online lives and public selves to explore the ways in which community, interaction, and even touch affect us, especially when these elements are missing ... The beauty of Seek You is that it feels like a communal experience. Reading this book is reading about ourselves and our lives ... Seek You accomplishes a lot and its unique hybrid nature makes it a must-read. However, perhaps the most important thing it accomplishes is telling everyone that they aren't alone in their loneliness, and that could be the first step into ending the loneliness epidemic.
[Radtke] returns this month with Seek You, an exploration of loneliness in America, a subject that has become increasingly germane in the five years since she began her project. The result is another resonant, haunting volume of graphic nonfiction written and drawn in the key of Edward Hopper ... Her subject may be timely, but Radtke, the art director and deputy publisher of the Believer magazine, is never superficial or fleeting ... she does not shy from big, potentially overwhelming questions ... Seek You isn’t the downer one might expect, given its sobering subject matter. If you accept that loneliness — like the impermanence at the heart of Radtke’s first book — is a fact of life, you might take comfort in being reminded that you’re not alone in this widely shared condition. There’s comfort to be found too, in the skillful elegance with which the author conveys her ideas.
... [an] immersive, novelistic and intensely humanistic book-length graphic essay ... the book curls through autobiographical episodes ranging from her Wisconsin suburban childhood to New York adulthood in which Radtke illustrates both the loneliness of physical solitude and of crowds. These make up some of the book's lovelier sections with Radtke's enigmatic text contrasting with her richly precise, Chris Ware-ian illustrations of darkened buildings illuminated by bright rectangular windows framing people in solitude ... Some of the more personal moments in Seek You feel only tenuously connected ... But most help to illustrate the wider and richer geography of disconnection that she explores in a work whose aching, keening sense of humanity is almost as powerful as its evocative artwork. There is so much empathy in Radtke's approach, she can even muster up sympathy for Harry Harlow...who most would call a monster ... Radtke's approach here purposefully mirrors that of those ham radio operators sending CQ signals out into the void, not necessarily with anything to say but just wanting to connect.