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April 24, 2017

Book Notes - Kristen Radtke "Imagine Wanting Only This"

Imagine Wanting Only This

In the Book Notes series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that relates in some way to their recently published book.

Previous contributors include Bret Easton Ellis, Kate Christensen, Lauren Groff, T.C. Boyle, Dana Spiotta, Amy Bloom, Aimee Bender, Jesmyn Ward, Heidi Julavits, Hari Kunzru, and many others.

Kristen Radtke's graphic memoir Imagine Wanting Only This is one of the most moving and thoughtful comics I have read in years.

The Chicago Tribune wrote of the book:

"One of the most haunting graphic memoirs I’ve ever read. . . . As we turn the pages on [Radtke’s] journey, we are ravaged and ravished. There is a proud tradition of graphic memoirists—of those dually equipped to wield word and image—to tell the true and deeply considered story of a life. Alison Bechdel, Roz Chast, Riad Sattouf, David Small, Marjane Satrapi, Art Spiegelman and others have done it searingly well. Add now to that list Radtke, who proves herself an equal among equals with this debut book."

In her own words, here is Kristen Radtke's Book Notes music playlist for her graphic memoir Imagine Wanting Only This:

A note: It'd be disingenuous for me not to mention that a common soundtrack to much of the drawing in Imagine Wanting Only This was the television and radio: drawing over 1,200 images means incountable hours alone, and after some of the early choices are made in each drawing, a lot of it can feel simply like labor and execution. Jessica Abel made an entire book about the radio in reaction to this, called Out on the Wire: the Storytelling Secrets of the New Masters of Radio. After a few hours of NPR, the comforting formulas of television often served as easy backdrops for me, too—Law and Order: SVU, 90s sitcoms, poorly-rated sci-fi like Fringe. Still, I often write in silence, particularly when I first start composing.

Leonard Cohen, "Chelsea Hotel #2"

I think this is one of the most beautifully disingenuous songs of all time. Cohen spends the entire song reminiscing about the times he spent with a woman, and then ends with "that's all, I don't even think of you that often."

Stevie Nicks

I can't really pick just one here, but I listened to her so often during the writing and drawing of Imagine.

My Morning Jacket, "I Will Be There When You Die"

I love putting on old college favorites when I'm working through drafts. I was introduced to My Morning Jacket via a mix-CD that a dreamy art student with a tongue ring slipped under my dorm room door. He played guitar and knew how to use Photoshop, so I took his music recs really seriously.

Houndmouth, "Houston Train"

I love drawing to smokey lady voices.

Penguin Cafe Orchestra, "Perpetuum Mobile"

Maybe it's because two of the most brilliant literary people I know got married while this song played, but I stick this song on writing playlists all the time.

Portishead, "Glory Box"

Good for sexy writing.

Miles Davis, "Four"

I like cheerful songs while I'm making work about the end of days.

This Will Destroy You, "Leather Wings"

Just super duper beautiful.

Phoenix, "Love Like a Sunset Part I"

This one's a little frantic in parts and can make you feel a little nuts if you're trying to parse through an idea, but has always kept me energized, too.

Beirut, "The Gulag Orkestar"

This song makes me feel like I want to win a war, and the war is turning in a book on time.

Kristen Radtke and Imagine Wanting Only This links:

the author's website
excerpt from the book

Atlantic review
Chicago Tribune review
Full Stop review
Kirkus Reviews review
Publishers Weekly profile of the author

Bustle profile of the author
Comic Book Resources interview with the author
The Daily Iowan profile of the author
Dallas News profile of the author
ELLE profile of the author
Michigan Quarterly Review interview with the author

also at Largehearted Boy:

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Book Notes (2015 - ) (authors create music playlists for their book)
Book Notes (2012 - 2014) (authors create music playlists for their book)
Book Notes (2005 - 2011) (authors create music playlists for their book)
my 11 favorite Book Notes playlist essays

100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads
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guest book reviews
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Soundtracked (composers and directors discuss their film's soundtracks)
weekly music release lists

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