infinity plus - sf, fantasy and horror non-fiction: reviews, interviews and features
infinity plus home pagefictionnon-fictionother stuffa to z


In Springdale Town

by Robert Freeman Wexler
with an introduction by Lucius Shepard

(PS Publishing, 2003; 86 pages; signed limited edition paperback; hardback edition also available; published April 2003; $16.00; ISBN: 1902880528.)

Physical meeting point for self-searching Outsiders and an emotional borderland cover scanbetween the realistic and fantastical, the seemingly quiet streets of Springdale Town can be a haven or a punishment, a place to find oneself or be forever lost. But how does one measure forever, and by which world's rationale? Who belongs in this world of action and reaction, fabrication and dream?

Robert Freeman Wexler's intriguing novella of self-identification, alienation, and displacement from both the physical world and the dimensions within mind and soul dares to ask such questions while telling the tragic tale of two men struggling to reconcile themselves with who they have been, who they might still be, and, more importantly, who they are in a quasi-hallucinatory present -- a condition slave to the failings of perception itself.

An emotionally scathing yet tender insight into the frailty, ignorance, and misplaced motivations of that most ridiculous of animals, the human being, In Springdale Town captures its two meticulously depicted protagonists with unflinching honesty and more than just a little compassion, telling through the philosophically rich narrative puzzle of two men's intersecting fates a fable cosmically symbolic of the indecision and culpability of the human condition.

Patrick Travis, a lawyer returning to his home town for the wedding of two friends who, along with the rest of the close-nit town, bore witness to his own disastrous marriage years before, attempts to discover in the memory-haunted streets, alleyways, and people of Springdale both self-acceptance and the emotional doorway to a new life. Richard Shelling, a television actor seeking salvation in an isolated country home just outside of Springdale, finds himself immersed into a surrealistic Kafkaian nightmare of half-truths and unnerving displacement as his soul cries out for the possible comfort and company of his fellows. Both men, extensions of the other, find neither haven nor hell in Springdale, but rather a mystifying paradoxical territory of possibility and transformation as what seems at first a fairly straight-forward mainstream character study quickly becomes an expressionistic nightmare shadow-walk between the Self and the alienated Outsider, culpability and responsibility.

Wexler's narration is crisp and clean. Refusing the temptation to over-explain or leave in complete obscurity the several possible interpretations of his tale, the author instead trusts (and demands) his readers to become a partner in meaning-making. A rich and enjoyable novella of dopplegangers, questionable realities, and perception -- the very tool by which we define reality -- is challenged in Springdale Town, a setting every as much a character as the sympathetic carefully rendered human beings searching for the geography of their souls in its mysteries.

Introduced by Lucius Shepard, In Springdale Town is fiction as it should be -- neither completely reality nor fantasy but a shadowy side-street possessing qualities of both.


Review by William P Simmons.


Let us know what you think of infinity plus - e-mail us at:
sf@infinityplus.co.uk

support this site - buy books through these links:
A+ Books: an insider's view of sf, fantasy and horror
amazon.com (US) | Internet Bookshop (UK)