Library Journal Review
At first glance, ruins are romantic. Look again, and they often speak of pain and failure. 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. She remembers her favorite uncle, lost to a rare heart defect, and fears for her own heart, literally and figuratively. She recounts the story of a long-dead ancestor who implored, seemingly successfully, God's protection on her church during a massive firestorm in small-town Wisconsin by marching around the building's exterior, crucifix in hand. 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. Her illustration abilities are somewhat stilted-she's a writer first and an illustrator second-but the art complements her flowing prose. Verdict A fantastic example of the graphic novel's possibilities as a literary medium, this work is visually imperfect, lyrically beautiful, and unquestionably brave. [See Prepub Alert, 10/24/16.]-Emilia Packard, Austin, TX © Copyright 2016. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly Review
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. Starting with a bracing trip she takes as a Chicago art student into a ruined Gary, Ind., cathedral, and framing her story with the sometimes panicky fatalism that comes with a dangerous heart defect, Radtke unspools a ruminative narrative about searching for meaning in an impermanent world. The focus on entropy, decay, and randomness would be grim and borderline pretentious if it weren't delivered with an unusually forthright honesty and deft, Chris Marker-esque ability to parse out meaning and wonder from the smallest details. Though the story of her investigative journey into decay around the world resonates, it is flattened by artwork that, oddly enough, has almost no sense of place. (Apr.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.