The girth of Cyril Pedrosa’s Equinoxes — 336 pages — implies narrative complication, but what unfolds is really as simple as the title suggests. An equinox is a matter of universal symmetry, of darkness and light being equal. The book is divided into four sections, each designated by one of the seasons, which divide up the year as an equinox divvies up the day. And so the narrative here is split into four — two larger, two smaller.
One larger story follows aging activist Louis and the efforts of his cohorts to involve him in protests against the building of an airport after news of an archaeological discovery there. Part of the reason they target him for his help is the passion of his past — the other part is the political ascendency of his protégé, Catherine, and their belief that his access to her will make a difference in their efforts.
The other follows Vincent, divorced and trying to keep a connection with his teenage daughter, as well as discover who exactly he is in this new life? Is he someone he left behind long ago or someone he hasn’t met yet? The brittle interaction with daughter Pauline is matched only by the hostile encounters with his ex-wife and a fumbling around with the world at large, until a visit by his brother, who has found God and joined a religious order, has Vincent questioning his own lack of quest for truth.
These two narratives share space with the idyllic slices of life of a human in prehistory — assumedly, an original inhabitant of the archaeological site fond at the airport — and the brief encounters of mysterious woman photographer, whose shots of strangers unleash the secrets within their mind through prose sections that interrupt the graphic novel flow, even as they add depth with their language.
Pedrosa lets the seasons and stories unfold with various art styles and color schemes, the latter of which burst out of the pages thanks to some unusual pairings that pull the very human, very realistic dramas into a place of heightened alienation and distance, though sometimes offering erratic and rattled delivery that perhaps reflects what is behind the public face of the main characters as they deflect the prying concerns of those around them. Even without any words or narrative, Pedrosa’s book works as a piece of art, so beautiful are the contents.
Pedrosa’s book is definitely for the patient. There is little heightened drama and a lot of philosophizing as it captures two stages of aging and examines the implications of legacy that inevitably pop up as move to the end. In these cases, it’s a striving for some legacy, any legacy, and the feeling that you somehow didn’t attend to that — or, in the case of Louis, perhaps you spent your time building the wrong legacy and never found a replacement.
Like the revelations of the prose, people keep secrets, never act out on desires, make decisions of inactivity for various unstated reasons — legacies that include the truth of that person might not be attainable. Like the photos of those covered in the prose are simple symbols that they existed, shadows of the rich emotional lives that go on within their hearts and minds, the prehistoric dweller, we discover, has his own version, and that is the best that any of us can really hope for. Nothing huge, since we are tiny when measured against time and the universe — just a little sign that we were here, that’s what Pedrosa seems to suggest is the fate of all humans, and that’s not a bad one at all.