Radtke, Kristen. Seek You: A Journey Through American Loneliness. Pantheon, 2021. ISBN 978-1524748067 352 pp. $30
Seek You is a masterful narrative of a lifetime of loneliness that is compared to a kind of condition that goes in and out of remission, and it’s a wonderful metaphor.
Part memoir, part history, Radtke examines loneliness through biology, sociology, psychology, art and pop culture, citing a number of studies, articles and books that document and examine our longing to connect, and why it’s so difficult. The prose is poetic if detached as she details hideous science experiments, gun violence, chat room lechers, depression, and abuse.
About a third of the way through, Radtke likens loneliness to being underwater: the weight of a sinking body, the inability to move with ease, the muted sounds… and the series of drawings that follow are poetic in their composition and pacing, culminating in a wave that washes everything away for the next chapter. It’s quite brilliant and arresting.
Fitting the theme of the book, the palate is predominantly blacks and blues, grey, purple and lavender that even on white backgrounds and with pops of mustard and salmon, feels murky and dark. The colors match the somber tone and steady march of the text.
The book is meticulously documented with a list of citations at the end.