In Springdale Town
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:
Physical meeting point for self-searching Outsiders and an emotional
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
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.