Here’s the introduction that Jeff Ford wrote for The Painting and the City. Also, Jeff is blogging again. Go ye to the Crackpot Palace.
Jeffrey Ford: The Fiction of Robert Freeman Wexler
Like something out of a Robert Freeman Wexler novel, I can’t remember when I first met Robert Freeman Wexler. On the first few brief meetings, he was a very unassuming individual, calm, eyelids one eighth of the way toward a nap, but usually grinning. It was only after I read his fiction that his personality began to cohere for me. His fiction is deep and unique with its own off-kilter, waltz-like rhythm. It’s a tonic to the death-rush of today’s corporate-fueled five cuts per second novelty bazaar. It’s not screaming for attention by trying to be the most anything, but is content to be itself, which is something subtly surreal, contemplative, graceful, and shot through with humor.
A lot happens in his books, more than in most, because whereas many of today’s writers are always mindful of hurrying on to the next big payoff, Wexler is content to linger and give full weight to his characters’ musings and daily routines. They have jobs and relationships and know disappointment and an occasional quiet, solitary triumph. The clarity of his writing style reveals the everyday as being as interesting as an instance of, like in one of his short stories, the clouds taking on mass and tumbling out of the sky.
When these aspects of his fiction came into focus for me, Wexler, himself, came into focus. What I can tell you I’ve learned about him is that he’s in it for the art. That may sound like an outdated, hippie platitude, but for those, like him, who operate from this rare space, it’s a timeless actuality devoid of melodrama. He is not a frantic promoter of himself or his fiction. When he speaks about his work, you can tell he’s given it a great deal of thought. I suggest you seek out some of the interviews he’s given that exist on-line. There you’ll find someone intelligent and honest about the discussion of his own books, someone confident enough in what he’s about to be able to question his own motives and assumptions.