cover image Treading the Maze

Treading the Maze

Chronicle Books, Susan E. King. Chronicle Books, $17.95 (84pp) ISBN 978-0-8118-1605-2

Through words and pictures, artist, writer and printer King melds the stories of two journeys--a trip to Europe in 1989 and the experience of breast cancer, which was diagnosed on her return--hoping to transform her illness into art. Her central image is the labyrinth at the cathedral of Chartres in France, a circular maze through which medieval worshipers on their knees made a symbolic pilgrimage to Jerusalem. For King, the maze symbolizes the suffering and loneliness she travels through her illness. Memories of her European trip alternate with descriptions of her dealings with doctors, hospitals and radiation treatments, all of it glossed with marginal notes on myths, legends and other writings she deems relevant. The illustrations include doctors' diagrams of breasts and pictures of circular, breast-like forms such as the labyrinth and the rose window at Chartres, the arrangement of stones at Stonehenge, an astrological chart and an outline of Paris. The juxtaposition of so many ideas is sometimes confusing, and a few of the connections are forced, but this is an insightful book. (May)