IMAGINE WANTING ONLY THIS
Forthcoming from Pantheon Books April 18, 2017
A Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Pick || A Los Angeles Times Face to Watch ||
A Refinery29, The Millions, Huffington Post, Martha Stewart Living, National Post, Chicago Reader, Buzzfeed, and Nylon magazine most anticipated book
“Radtke isn't an artist who also writes a little or a writer who scrawls but a master of both prose narrative and visual art. Like memory, the narrative loosens the binds of chronology, playing hopscotch through the author's girlhood, college, formative years as an artist, and apocalyptic fantasy of her current home in New York. . . . In a way, what she has done in this impressive book is to revive the dead and recover the lost while illuminating a world in flux, in which change is the only constant. Powerfully illustrated and incisively written—a subtle dazzler of a debut.”
—★ Kirkus Reviews, starred review
"In Imagine Only Wanting This, debuter Radtke explores all manner of devastation—the detritus of a youthful relationship, the aftermath of volcanic eruption, the hollowed-out shell of a church in deeply depressed Gary, IN. . . . Beautifully written, this multidirectional memoir ties threads and minutiae from Radtke’s personal and family history and history writ large to create a tender, drifting reflection on the calamity life is often built on, the nothing it will become, and the breathtaking beauty of lingering between those forgone conclusions. . . . A fantastic example of the graphic novel’s possibilities as a literary medium.”
—★ Library Journal, starred review
"Radtke’s neat, grayscale drawings are detailed and coloring-book precise, and her thoughtful, meticulous narration makes true visual essays of them. . . . In her cerebral journey of a first book, Radtke, an illustrator, designer, and managing editor of a small press, asks and answers: Why do ruins fascinate, and why is this fascination considered perverse? Why are ruins there at all?"
—★ Booklist, starred review
“The book chronicles Radtke’s journey to ruined cities after the death of her uncle, an unusual pairing that has drawn strong advance reviews. The memoir doesn’t just reflect on her own life story but on the notion of becoming an artist and what it means when people and places are left behind.”
—Los Angeles Times, Faces to Watch 2017
"I tell as many people as possible how cool I think Radtke is, so that when she blows up I’ll have proof that I was ahead of the curve. . . . Her first book is graphic memoir/travelogue about her life, family history, and a trip around the world in search of ruins."
—The Millions, Most Anticipated Books of 2017
"Radtke's gorgeous graphic memoir ponders ruins and the people and places that are left behind."
—Martha Stewart Living, Page-Turners for 2017
"An evocative debut and a glorious mashup of genres, Imagine Wanting Only This contains the meandering stories of everyday places that have fallen to ruins — from deserted cities of the American Midwest to an Icelandic town buried in ash to tiny populated islands in the Philippines and beyond. A personal history that takes the shape of graphic illustrations, Radtke's stories take a reader on a winding journey that also traverses the crumbling canals of human history—and the human heart.”
—Refinery29, Most Anticipated Books of 2017
"Kristen Radtke’s graphic memoir is a story of loss, but the Brooklyn-based illustrator’s approach is adventure: the sudden death of Radtke’s uncle spurred her passion for ruins of people and place. Her grief makes good company. In an impressive spread of portfolio work, Radtke’s illustrations tend toward raw vector-drawn portraiture, and sparse samples of her written skill mirror the style with clever, candid observations on their subjects. ”
—National Post, Debuts to look out for in 2017
"In her debut book, Kristen Radtke undulates between public and deeply personal observations. Her story begins when she attends her uncle’s funeral near a dilapidated mining town; from there, she sets out to explore abandoned places while contemplating a heart disease many members of her family have suffered from. Loss echoes throughout its illustrated pages, threading disparate corners of the globe together into a touching narrative."
—Huffington Post, Nonfiction Books By Women Everyone Should Read This Year
"This graphic novel/memoir takes readers on an incredible journey, both to places ranging from Iceland to the Philippines, but also into the dark recesses of the mind and the heart.”
—Nylon magazine, Most Anticipated Books of 2017
"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. . . . Delivered with an unusually forthright honesty and deft, Chris Marker–esque ability to parse out meaning and wonder from the smallest details.”
"Kristen Radtke is a thoughtful, unapologetically intelligent graphic writer. . . . compelling, refreshing and unique."
“Kristen Radtke’s Imagine Wanting Only This doesn’t tell a single story but a chorus of histories, personal and familial and historical, and invents its own marvelous language for their telling—a language forged from interior thought and visual imagination, bringing together words and illustration in continually surprising and moving ways. The voice in these pages is eloquent in so many ways at once, like a shape that exists in three dimensions rather than two, and it’s utterly singular: visually alive, attentive to details, self-questioning and tender as it surveys variously haunted terrains of heart and landscape. Radtke’s world is so immersive, and so sensitively conjured, that once I entered the sketched chamber of her pages, I didn’t want to leave again—or even pause for breath—until I reached the end.”
—Leslie Jamison, author of The Empathy Exams
"Riveting and glorious. A book of sorrow filtered through intellect. In Kristen Radtke’s hands, nonfiction becomes poetry. A tremendous achievement.”
—Tom Hart, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Rosalie Lightning
"Cities, ambitions, romances, and bodies come to ruin before our eyes, as Kristen Radtke invites us, in her beautifully understated way, to be disturbed, fascinated, and yes, even attracted to that ruin. A remarkable bildungsroman!”
—Eula Biss, author of On Immunity
"Kristen Radtke leads us through a bleak and beautifully crafted story of heart and heartbreak—creation, connection, decay, and loss. Imagine Wanting Only This is challenging and inspiring.”
—Ellen Forney, New York Times bestselling author of Marbles
"I may be a bit demanding, for I want only this: a book that comes alive on the page, that shows instead of tells, that gives me more than what I'm what asking for. My wishes came true in Kristen Radtke's graphic novel, Imagine Wanting Only This. I was continuously struck by Radtke's unending and unapologetic explorations of the ruins that litter our lives and puncture our curious and very personal understandings of home. This book is beautiful, intelligent, and very much alive."
—Claire Tobin, Literati Bookstore