cover image Spiral and Other Stories

Spiral and Other Stories

Aidan Koch. New York Review Comics, $24.95 trade paper (208p) ISBN 978-1-68137-835-0

With this quartet of meditative and painterly stories, Koch (After Nothing Comes) juxtaposes humankind’s general instability and search for permanence against the organic, regular flow of nature’s rhythms. The title piece follows a nameless female protagonist’s travels, which include a stopover with some old friends. Koch intercuts scenes of the woman pondering the unknowable outcomes of her destination, illustrated by sequences of two rivers that ultimately meet: “The water never thought about what would happen... it was just moving.” In the fable-like “A New Year,” a village’s denizens decorate the surrounding forest, hanging “messages and gifts” across all the trees to both honor and keep secret from authorities the specific location of a tree thought to be where “all the souls went.” Koch returns to water imagery in the tone poem “The Forest” as well as in “Man Made Lake,” where a patient describes to a therapist their former life as a sea creature: “My cells were part of everything and everything was connected.“ Koch’s lovely, softly colored minimalism zeroes in on small, specific details, such as the blue polka dots of a woman’s socks as she climbs a staircase—resulting in an innovative image that looks like drops of water floating up the steps. This and other abstractions suffuse the work with a beguilingly ambient quality. Koch’s artful interludes offer much to ponder. (Apr.)