Escher’s Loops is a delightful journey through the ‘degrees of separation’ that connect us together. It is a story without place and time, yet timeless in its message; and though the characters are nameless, they are at once universal in their appeal and intimately familiar due to their idiosyncrasies. The book is also a homage to Escher, a prose counterpart to his famous drawings.
The book is built in four parts, or ‘loops.’ Each loop connects to the one preceding it with one missing link-a link unknown in the previous part. What starts as a simple elevator ride soon turns into a roller-coaster of shared experiences, each more bizarre than the previous. Zivkovic uses the self-referential technique of storytelling (like Escher’s famous “Drawing Hands”) to move the story ahead.
Escher’s Loops reminded me of one of my childhood favorites-the Spirograph. If each protagonist was represented by an individual pen, then the entire story comes together as an intricately linked design produced by a spirograph that had multiple wheels that spun together in perfect unison. The threads of the story weave through each other to form periodic links, but the author’s sharp style keeps them from creating an entangled mess. We travel across a familiar Zivkovic landscape-dreams, passions, death, food, and-of course-books & librarians!
The author makes apt use of metaphors-locales (concert hall, prison, airplane, and even a firing squad) and people (pharmacist, explorer, butcher, athlete)-and conjures the most absurd situations that make us laugh when we read them, and ponder when we recollect.
Like all of his earlier novels, reading Escher’s Loops is a hard and honest look into one’s personal mirror. It is a quest to find that one thing that each of us holds dear in our heart, and offering it to some mysterious higher calling.