PHOTO BY LAUREN HEATON
Villager Robert Wexler will read from his first book, In Springdale
Town, this Saturday, May 3, at 7 p.m., at Sam & Eddies
writer who dislikes labels
Robert Wexler is a local writer, and thats about the extent of his
comfort with labels. But you cant get an idea of his writing style
either by looking at the bucolic pastel drawing on the cover of his first
book, In Springdale Town, published this month by PS Publishing.
You have to look a little deeper before you start to see clues, such as
the dog-eared copies of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings on his bookshelf,
and the blue and red Mexican chicken on his computer desk. And you have
to read his work a little further to get to the gooey black holes and
characters who dont exist in a town a bit like Yellow Springs before
the literary genre becomes clearer, sort of.
Literary fabulation is what Wexler calls his work, describing
his style as slip stream surrealist fantasy in a real-world
setting with magic intruding on it.
For instance, when Richard Shelling sets out from his Santa Monica movie
star life on Interstate 10, the reader could reasonably expect the rest
of the story to be about a mans journey to rediscover his identity
and ground himself in the humanity of a small Midwestern town. But the
journey is in a dimension where the characters swim through pink foam
jelly and cannot escape the ogreish jailer who keeps turning up to trap
them. In the end they emerge from the viscous goop and have to face themselves
and choose their true identities.
Wexler said he often writes in stream of consciousness mode and never
knows where his stories will lead him.
Part of the joy is finding out whats going to happen because
I dont know when I start writing, he said. I like having
it be more accidental.
Its less confining to access the subconscious and see where it takes
you, he said.
In keeping with his aversion to labels that box and define, Wexler wants
to be free to explore all the dimensions of the imagination in his writing.
He wants to produce something that is his very own.
I dont want to write about something everybody sees,
he said. Id rather create something people cant see.
Growing up in the swamp city of Houston, Texas, Wexler said, he was drawn
to read Louis LAmour westerns and science fiction stories by Andrea
Norton. But the journalism degree he later earned limited his writing
to the realm of reality in an unsatisfying way, he said. So he got a computer
degree to do freelance desktop publishing and began writing what he wanted
to write, moving to Yellow Springs in 1999 to do it.
But the problem with writing about floating people and whales that talk
is that it gets labeled as science fiction or fantasy, Wexler said, adding
that he would rather not be identified as serving a fan club of Star
Science fiction tends to be plot driven, he said, and isnt often
prized for its literary value.
I have high standards for the actual language, he said. And
I felt if I wrote well, I could get things published.
Within the world of publishing, the science fiction community is less
intimidating and easier to penetrate because the audience is always the
same loyal group of followers and collectors, Wexler said. He has attended
some of the more literary science fiction conferences, such as the World
Fantasy Convention, which attracts 600 to 700 readers, writers and editors
After getting short stories published in several literary and experimental
fiction magazines, Wexler found PS Publishing, a British publisher, to
distribute his novella. The company will print 300 hardback copies and
500 paperbacks, plus a limited edition for collectors, Wexler said.
He will give a reading on Saturday, May 3, at 7 p.m., at Sam & Eddies
Open Books. Copies are scheduled to be available this month at the local
bookstore and also online at Amazon UK and at Clarkes World Books.
Wexler continues to write new material. He is currently working on a novel
about a sculptor in New York who becomes obsessed with an historical painter.
Of course, he doesnt yet know what happens to his character, but
thats O.K. with him.
I usually get close to the end and then I see it like when Im
a block away, he said. I dont know for a long time,
then I see it, and I know its all worth it.