Imagine Wanting Only This

Imagine Wanting Only This

by Kristen Radtke


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ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR: Forbes  Lit Hub • Electric Lit

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)

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781101870839
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 04/18/2017
Series: Pantheon Graphic Library Series
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 628,458
Product dimensions: 7.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.10(d)
Lexile: GN960L (what's this?)

About the Author

KRISTEN RADTKE is the managing editor of Sarabande Books and the film and video editor of TriQuarterly magazine. She lives in New York.

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Imagine Wanting Only This 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Nathan_Dunbar More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A central component of Ms. Radtke's book centers around the discovery of some photographs in an abandoned Church in Gary, Indiana. She learns that the photos were left by the friends of Seth Thomas as part of a memorial after his tragic death from being struck by a train. Throughout the book, Mr. Thomas's photos are reproduced in drawings by the author, and provide a backdrop for her journey of appreciation for abandoned structures. Unfortunately, Ms. Radtke never bothered to reach out and talk to any of Seth's friends or family prior to using his story or work in her book. I considered Seth my closest friend and I miss him every day. In fact, we just recently passed the 11th anniversary of his untimely death. I don't know why the author wouldn't want to talk to any of his friends or family prior to appropriating his art for her own use; none of us are very difficult to find. In fact, both his mother and myself live within a mile of where Seth was killed. Taking the time to talk to any of us would have provided greater context to his work, and would have improved the book, I'm sure. Instead, it came as a painful shock to see his pictures recreated by the author, particularly the last one he ever took, likely by the train that killed him. It has been especially painful to his mother, with whom I had a long talk about this just yesterday. I don't understand why Ms. Radtke wouldn't exercise basic courtesy by at least asking his family if it were okay to use his work and story in her book. I would like to give her the benefit of the doubt and assume that she's just naive, and not deliberately inconsiderate, but I can't say for sure. I can also only speak for myself in that regard, as I know others have very strong feelings about how Seth's work was used. On the one hand, I'm sure Seth would appreciate knowing that his work served to help others appreciate abandoned spaces as he did. I'm also quite sure he'd be mad as hell if someone used his art without asking first. What Ms. Radtke doesn't seem to understand is that Seth Thomas was a real person, with family and friends who live with the pain of losing him every day. Seth was more than a plot device. He was my friend, my compatriot, my brother. I miss him dearly, and do not appreciate his artwork, which he literally died for, being appropriated for this book. Ms. Radtke owes Seth's friends, and especially his mother, a sincere apology, and an explanation of why she thought any of this was appropriate. Finally, Ms Radtke, those weren't his ashes on the pictures you found in that church in Gary. That was just crumbling plaster and probably some asbestos. His ashes are elsewhere in that building, as well as others.