Psychological Methods to Sell Should Be Destroyed: Stories
by Robert Freeman Wexler
Edited by John Klima
Cover Artist: Tim Robinson
Review by Sam Tomaino
Spilt Milk Press ISBN/ITEM#: RWEXLER200808
Date: 25 August 2008
Links: Spilt Milk Press Wiki / Pub Info / Table of Contents /
Psychological Methods to Sell Should Be Destroyed is a collection of short fiction by Robert Freeman Wexler published by Spilt Milk Press, the title is taken from a song.
In the introduction to this volume, Zoran Živković states that these stories would not have been published in mass market paperback. He is right about that. These are introspective, most of them focussed on one individual who is apart from his society and shows how he deals with it.
"Suspension" is told by a man named Quatrain Brauner. He tells us that he is six foot six inches, weighs 320 pounds and, by the way, has four arms. Out walking on a wintry day, he slips and falls on his back and just lies there in the snow. People pass by but most ignore him. We learn a little of his life, which is a lonely one, but things change for the better.
"Tales of the Golden Legend" is probably the most unusual story in the volume. It seems that bread can talk but only a select group of people can hear the loaves!
"Valley of the Falling Clouds" features a man named Rex. He is a loner who moves from town to town, never staying long. In one town, he becomes ill and is cared for by a beautiful young woman named Apple Jane. He falls in love with her and wants to build a house for her so that they can marry and live together. This is not as easy for him as he expects it to be.
"The Green Wall" is set in New York City. Erickson lives in an apartment on Grand and Mulberry, smack dab in the "Little Italy" section. It's the end of September and the sounds and smells of the Festival of San Gennaro has been keeping him awake. He is dissatisfied with his job at an art gallery. One day, he looks out his window and sees a rain forest, lush with fauna and flora. He assumes it is some kind of movie that is being projected on a wall. He becomes more and more obsessed with it and must get a closer look.
"Indifference" is the story of Brown, whose wife has left him. He has become increasingly indifferent to everything. He is so indifferent he makes Bartleby the Scrivener look lively. This goes on until a disembodied head appears in his apartment and things take a different turn.
The last story is new. "Sidewalk Factory: A Muncipal Romance" is the story of man who lives in a glorious city, in which great projects are undertaken. One involves a factory that makes sidewalks out of felt hats. The Lord Mayor makes grandiose statements about everything that is happening. Our narrator is quite content to go with the flow, but involvement with two women changes him.
The reprinted stories in Psychological Methods to Sell Should Be Destroyed have been published in Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet, The Third Alternative and Polyphony. If you like the sort of alternative stories that appear in those magazines, you should like this volume.