In Springdale Town
Robert Freeman Wexler
This book can be downloaded and read in iBooks on your Mac or iOS device.
Reconciliation, longing, and ambiguity combine in one astounding locale: Springdale. Is it a mundane New England town on a picturesque river, or the nexus of the paradoxical?
Springdale appears to be a quiet village, unblemished by shopping mall or mega-store. The town sits in a fertile valley, surrounded by countryside rich in natural wonder. Summers, tourists attend the area’s many arts and music festivals, and hikers crowd the trails. In the fall, reds and yellows of turning leaves decorate the landscape, and in winter, mountain resorts fill with avid skiers.
But some say Springdale exists only on the contoured highways of our collective imagination. Others point to references dating back to Colonial Boston, to multiple versions of a ballad telling a story of remorse and disgrace.
Here are three facts:
1. Maps cannot be trusted;
2. All History is awash with fraud and hoax;
3. Springdale is an absence of identity.
For two people, a lawyer named Patrick Travis and a television actor named Richard Shelling, Springdale is home and anti-home, a place of comfort and a distortion of everyday life. They are strangers to each other, yet connected. Their lives will intersect with a force that shatters both.
“Springdale is told in a deceptively muted style and cunningly crafted so that the story appears to assemble itself around the reader like a trap he or she has sprung, yet remains innocent-looking until the end, when a spring-loaded hammer smashes down.” —Lucius Shepard, from the introduction to the original print edition
“For some writers, prose is a means with which to construct an analogue of reality. For Robert Freeman Wexler, fiction is a means with which to de-construct reality. Yet his stories have such a strong sense of linguistic integrity, it’s hard to believe that he isn’t reporting his experiences from a parallel universe.” —Rick Kleffel, from an interview at fantasticmetropolis.com.
“…In a list comprising some of the biggest names in contemporary genre fiction the appearance of a novella by a virtually unknown author causes a certain interest. In Springdale Town represents its author’s first book publication (after only a handful of short stories) and yet it fits into the PS Publishing list with such subtle skill that its presence on the shelf feels as if an invisible gap in the collection has been suddenly filled.”—Lavie Tidhar, Dusksite
“…no need for Lovecraftian monsters or rampaging serial killers to transform Springdale into a seriously creepy place. An old ballad suggests that one death haunts this village, but Wexler deviously, almost casually, creates a sense of wrongness that goes well beyond some past saga of jealousy and murder. Don’t read this one right before bedtime–or your next road trip.”—Faren Miller, Locus Magazine, October 2003
“The basic idea is familiar, almost banal, but Wexler’s treatment is witty, his writing is excellent, his characters are really well captured—I was very impressed with the story.”—Rich Horton, Locus Magazine, November 2003
“…Other writers, wiry and wry, as lithe as dragonflies, may seem more vulnerable, but their grace, their maneuverability, becomes its own kind of tensile strength. They can travel farther, faster, and in disguise.”—Jeff VanderMeer, Locus Online
“…lovely Americana set-piece turned on its ear.”—Jay Lake, Tangent Online
“…An emotionally scathing yet tender insight into the frailty, ignorance, and misplaced motivations of that most ridiculous of animals, the human being.”—William P. Simmons, Infinity Plus
“…Robert Freeman Wexler dives into the heart of Americana in his chilling and tender novella.”—Rick Kleffel Agony Column