Adobe Walls, reviewed by Glenn A. Bruce
Ty Spencer Vossler’s love and understanding of Mexico, its customs, and its people is obvious from page one of Adobe Walls, a taut and diverse collection of short stories celebrating the sad, the sated, and the misunderstood on both sides of the border. From a tortured ghost of a man set on, and afraid of, deadly revenge, to a violative preacher’s haunted memories of aggrieved lust, searching his emptied soul for the perfect sermon while knowing his transgressions will strangle him if he finds it, Vossler captures the trials of a host of underbelly characters struggling through the vicissitudes of lives complicated by more troubles than they are prepared, or able, to face.
The loosely connected stories—callbacks to a tattered pulp novel, a dry riverbed, and a string of costly infidelities—roll easily from the hardscrabble exigencies of the poor, especially those with Mexican heritage, to the easy lives of the rich whose difficulties are of their own making, to a frumpy and pregnant professor on the verge of personal dissolution, trying desperately to understand her life through algebraic equations. Vossler includes enough sneaky humor to raise the corners of one’s mouth every few pages, a smattering of topical references to keep the tales relevant to today, enough politics to be insubordinate, and plenty of matter-of-fact cruelties of common life, all infused with a lingering dark malignity beneath.
Adobe Walls will challenge the way you view those who dwell on the fringes of sanity to endure the everyday horrors of just getting by without encountering a personal experience with death—a hope that is often not met. There are a lot of dark secrets inside these Adobe Walls, stealthily awaiting the hungry reader.
*Glenn A. Bruce has been writing for over three decades - two of them spent in Hollywood writing feature films and television, including the hit movie "Kickboxer" and the series "Walker: Texas Ranger" and "Baywatch." A rare native of Miami, FL,, he is also a painter and an award-winning video writer. He is the author of, Riverbend, The Maples, Rubric, The Man, as well as other works available at most booksellers all over the world.
"Reading a Vossler short story feels like an out of body (and mind) experience. Nothing else exists while you're in his world. On a recent vacation, I was reading this collection on a train outside of Paris and didn't even glance out the window for over an hour. If ever there was an modern, erotic version of Twilight Zone or Night Gallery, this is it. From tales of the Mexican bedroom to a brand of California noir I've never seen anywhere else, this collection will call you back again and again."
—Eric Ristau, Cinematographer
"It's unlike anything I've read. It is an emotional roller-coaster ride that is very well written."
—Guy Galer, Writer cinematographer, and game designer
"Ty Spencer Vossler is a powerful essayist who has written several pieces which have been published by, The Wolfian Press, in several editions of The Wolfian magazine. In his longer essays, he has been able to describe in great detail, hold the reader's attention, and maintain a complicated narrative over the course of several developments. His shorter pieces are exact, and no less powerful.
Ty has written on a range of social commentary, as well as from personal experience, and his essays always receive praise from our readers. As editor of, The Wolfian, I am always pleased to receive something of Ty's, as I know it will be a perfect match for our magazine."
—Jay Wolf, publisher AHF magazine, Wolfian Press
"I couldn't put it down the beginning. Loved the fun writing and the erotica too, the sad parts and the anecdotes. "
—Nadia Romero, research mathematician
"He remains one of the best students I have ever taught, and I continue to be a fan of his writing. He is thoughtful and engaged with his writing on a wonderfully critical level, and demonstrates exceptional talent as both a poet
and short storywriter. His vital and intelligent commentary in workshops set an example for other students."
—Kelli Allen, award-winning poet, writer, English professor
“It is at times funny, sad, straightforward, and disturbing, but at its heart is an essential message about life.”
Deep Mud Review by Glenn Bruce
John Steinbeck wrote about his compassion for the simple honesty of the Mexican people; Cormac McCarthy wrote about his love for the conflicted hardscrabble American Southwest countryside; Gabriel García Márquez explored the great tradition of magic realism in Colombian story telling; and H.P. Lovecraft wrote about his fascination with things fantastical and barely imaginable. Layer the tone and tenor of these four over a coming-of-age story set in a mythical version of a real place, and you have Ty Spencer Vossler’s terrific new novel Deep Mud.
Vossler, who lived in both California and Mexico, often expresses his love of the places and the people, has outdone himself with this wild and wonderful story of a Mexican American boy growing up in a place they call Deep Mud, which is the Mexican definition of Atascadero, a real town in Central California that serves as a metaphor for the unknown and unexplainable in this moving tale of unexpected twists and turns.
Young Ricardo “Ricky” Menses is 14 when the story opens in his hometown of Atascadero, CA. As is the case with most boys of that age, he is confused, angry, resigned—and horny. His parents haven’t gotten along for years, and Ricardo feels he is doomed to their sterile fate. Then his father disappears, leaving Ricardo more lost than ever.
Until he meets Cynthia, Marisol, and Marcia, three girls at his high school who offer him a glimmer of hope—one for her intelligence and interest in him as a person, one with a special connection to Mexican mysticism through her dying indigenous grandmother, and one who is seen as the town slut. To a young man in the throes of hormonal distraction, intellectual doubt, and religious ambiguities, the three offer a paean to the otherwise bleak outlook he has for his own future.
But that’s just the beginning. As young Ricardo grows into high school and begins to understand the girls and his place in their worlds, strange events come to Atascadero. The legendary “monster” in heavily polluted Lake What A Mess just might be real; the only doctor in town may be a mad scientist who has invented a way to bring the dead back to life; and Ricardo’s alcoholic mother may be sleeping with him—along with every other woman in town.
Amid the mushrooming chaos in Deep Mud, the town, young Ricardo is recruited for a road trip to carry a dead woman back to her home state, deep in the heart of Old Mexico. While they are gone, the Atascadero Ricardo has known all his life becomes a place he will never again recognize. His heart is broken, but not his spirit.
Ty Vossler has deftly woven a tale of mysteries, half-truths, outright lies, and scientific anomalies that defy explanation—all the while raising the emotional crises and thrills to ever-increasing levels of danger and joy. With each surprising—sometimes shockingly so—wildly unpredictable turn of events, the stakes grow higher and higher until we are gratefully given reprieve and solace in Ricardo’s ultimate decision in life: to write his own version of his experiences in Deep Mud.
Glenn Bruce Review, 1/3/2021
Meadowland is Ty Spencer Vossler’s best work by far. This pastiche of interwoven stories centered around a tattered paperback with stuck-together pages that gets passed from character to character until finally finding its “rightful” owner, does so many things well that it is impossible to cover them all. From the tight, Hemingway-esque opening chapters—short, sharp sentences that ring true and plunge the reader headfirst into the world(s) of Meadowland’s wild assortment of inhabitants—to the fanciful, poetic flight from “reality” in the middle chapters, to the poignant conclusions, Vossler proves again that he can do it all. This soulful novel threads together tales of young boys growing up in California’s Central Valley, with complicated lives of fictional Meadowland’s conflicted adults, to an alien who flits around inhabiting the bodies and minds of people all over the planet in order to get his sustaining energy called Shine, coming full circle in the end. Equal parts coming-of-age, magical realism, an examination of the human comedy/tragedy, and philosophical speculations, Meadowland is both a pleasure and thought-provoker, pulling the reader along from the simple to the audacious, following a cracker-crumb trail of mysticism, sex, and murder to dovetail powerfully in the last pages, leaving you with a sense that you have read something both powerful and important as well just plain old entertaining. A strong recommend.