Rich Shapero’s novels dare readers with giant metaphors, magnificent obsessions and potent ideas. His casts of idealistic lovers, laboring miners, and rebellious artists all rate ideas as paramount, more important than life itself. They traverse wild landscapes and visionary realms, imagining gods who in turn imagine them. Like the seekers themselves, readers grapple with revealing truths about human potential.
His titles—The Slide That Buried Rightful, Dissolve, Island Fruit Remedy, Balcony of Fog, Rin, Tongue and Dorner, Arms from the Sea, The Hope We Seek, Too Far and Wild Animus—are available in hardcover and as ebooks. They also combine music, visual art, animation and video in the TooFar Media app. Shapero spins provocative stories for the eyes, ears, and imagination.
The Slide That Buried Rightful
Can we rise above the cynicism of a cold-blooded world?
In 1921, a disaffected carpenter named Garris and his teenage daughter, Yvetta—of whom he is highly protective—arrive in Rightful, a small Arctic Alaskan village whose store Garris has been hired to repair.
Rightful was established during the gold rush decades earlier, and though the gold is gone, its founder and inhabitants are eager to see the village grow and prosper. They convince a skeptical Garris to stay and build a Meeting House for the natives at a nearby Eskimo camp, where Yvetta will teach.
Yvetta begins sharing intimacies of body and spirit with the son of an Eskimo elder, while Garris forms a deep connection with his half-white sister. But when Tom Astley, a miscreant trapper, attacks the Eskimo camp, all agree that something must be done. In the absence of law enforcement, their efforts founder.
Then the violence escalates, culminating in Astley’s abduction of Yvetta, and Garris makes the fateful decision to take justice into his own hands . . .
With penetrating observation and empathy, The Slide That Buried Rightful confounds our assumptions about right and wrong, and drives us headlong toward a new understanding of earthly—and unearthly—justice.
What if you could imagine, and embrace, a transmutation story about your own ending?
Wiley is a dying man, gripped by a memory from his time as a young textile trader on a remote island.
His mentor, an aging gem hunter, had unveiled to him a stone never before seen—a watery rock replete with pearly orbs that, when bathed by moonlight, came alive. What Wiley witnessed left an indelible impression.
Decades later, from his hospice bed, Wiley resolves at last to pursue the orbs, conscripting a younger man, Roan, to locate, extract and deliver the extraordinary rock back to him. Against staggering odds, Roan upholds his end of the bargain, but remains mum about the mysterious conditions under which he carried out the work.
With the rocks in his possession, Wiley implores Roan to stay, and surrounds himself with family—close and estranged—hoping the orbs will afford him the ecstatic send-off he envisions . . .
With alluring imagery and philosophical vigor, Dissolve challenges you to take part in a rapturous transition between life and death that tests, in the face of mortality, the liberating potentials of belief.
Island Fruit Remedy
What might it take for a spurned fantasist to find hearth and home?
Wood is a romance writer whose wife leaves him. Stung, and with a head full of fantasies, he hastens to Key West to heal.
On the Key, Wood encounters women with the names and personalities of tropical fruit. Each holds a mirror up to his romantic ideas, and with one, he forms a deep connection.
But the mystery of the elusive Papaya is a fantasy he can’t set aside, and it threatens to destroy everything—until, in his greatest moment of need, Wood conjures the ultimate teacher . . .
With burlesque flair and keen insight, Island Fruit Remedy rewards the reader with an unexpectedly sober discovery about the creative act of finding and keeping love.
Balcony of Fog
What kind of perspective might we need to recognize, and accept, our irreconcilable desires for harmony and power?
In a storm-ravaged corner of post-nuclear America, Arden is left for dead after a brutal beating from his superior. On waking, he encounters Estra, a lost woman of mysterious origin, whom he smuggles into his cell. Desperate, and now in love, the two resolve to escape to the place from which Estra has come—the cloud realm.
Together, they ascend to the skies and make their home on a vacant cumulus, where Estra initiates Arden into the ways of the vaporous world. On the horizon looms a thunderhead, growing larger and more monstrous as it consumes the clouds in its path. The thunderhead is following them, and Estra knows and fears the man driving it.
As the hidden truths of Estra’s past emerge, Arden despairs, then—with Estra’s encouragement and guidance—determines to fight back.
Mixing the sublimity of fair-weather skies with the nightmarish violence of electric storms, Balcony of Fog illuminates the tension between the power of love and the love of power.
Rin, Tongue and Dorner
What if our inner voices revealed a tug-of-war between powers that secure us to reality and those that, for good or ill, want to hurl us away?
A new ice age has driven mankind to settlements at the equator. In Clemency—a metropolis sheltered inside a transparent dome surrounded by glaciers—Planning luminary Dorner hears female voices in his sleep. As the voices become more insistent, he seeks help from neuroscientist Rin, who runs tests to identify the location and import of this interior woman, who calls herself “Tongue.”
Rin’s increasingly invasive experiments help Dorner to visualize Tongue, until he’s able to fly through the cosmos of his brain and find the distant asteroid from which Tongue’s voices beckon and provoke.
Meanwhile, Rin and Dorner fall in love. Is Tongue an agent of change, bringing desire and passion to their lives, or is she Rin’s worst enemy? With Rin’s guidance, Dorner lands on the asteroid where Tongue reigns supreme, and explores a mysterious landscape of flames and human monuments—a realm of rapture and portent that threatens to undo them all.
With wild, hyper-metaphorical imagination and blazing insight, Shapero depicts the inner workings of human desire, probing the depths of our buried passions, and revealing their potential to annihilate us, or set us free.
Arms from the Sea
What kind of sea change in our ideals might we need to refashion our world for the better?
Lyle is a young man who hates his life in the State of Salt, a cultural and literal desert. He vandalizes a State icon, then swallows a poison pill that transports him not to death, but to a liminal realm—blue, aquatic, and wholly alien.
He’s rescued and shepherded by henchmen of the Polyp, god of the oceanic world they call “heaven.” A series of encounters unfolds between Lyle and the monstrous, seductive god, who gradually reveals his grandeur and mysterious purpose.
Lyle is horrified at first but soon finds himself falling for the Polyp, and the potent and bizarre creative potential he represents . . .
Whimsical and outlandish but also timely and dead serious, Arms from the Sea navigates allegorical realms of possibility, pointing to what it might mean to redeem a desolate world.
The Hope We Seek
What kind of vision, and subterfuge, might it take to inspire the kind of belief that drives human aspiration and achievement?
Zachary Knox, a sharpshooter known as “the Bull’s-Eye Telepath,” heads north in search of gold. On his way, he meets Sephy, a magnetic woman on the trail of her lost brother. But on arrival, they find the mining camp is home to a cult. The mine boss, Trevillian, rules the camp like a despotic priest, and at the center of his faith is Hope, an elusive goddess for whom the miners toil, enduring increasingly perilous trials as they pursue her into the depths of the earth.
Zack determines to overthrow Trevillian, guided by Sephy’s cryptic directions—until Hope appears and reveals the astonishing future she has in mind for him.
With epic force and seductive allegory, The Hope We Seek transports us to a netherworld of danger and allure—where arduous labor, sustained by unwavering belief, promises an unearthly reward. Rich Shapero holds a dark mirror to the passions that drive us, and the extremes to which we go to find meaning in our lives.
Can a child’s boundless and desperate imagination offer an escape from a cruel reality?
On the outskirts of Fairbanks, six-year-old Robbie meets a mesmerizing girl his own age, and together they explore the mysterious woodland surrounding their homes. The world they discover is built from their fantasies, and inhabited by creatures born from their dreams.
But while Robbie and Fristeen grow inseparable, Robbie’s parents are drifting apart, and Fristeen’s mother is coming undone. As their homes become increasingly unstable, the children travel deeper and farther into their private world. The forest—and the gods who inhabit it—becomes their refuge until, at summer’s end, they are forced to choose between the crushing prospects of the real world, and the lethal demands of their ideal one.
Told as a parable, and vividly observed, Too Far is an exhilarating and heart-breaking story of an end to innocence that captures the triumphs and follies of the child’s imagination as it struggles to remain boundless and free.
How far would you go to find yourself?
Wild Animus tracks the reckless quest of Ransom Altman, a young Berkeley graduate who—roused by his literary heroes and love for his girlfriend, Lindy—resolves to live in a new world of “inexhaustible desire.”
Ransom’s deepening identification with the wild mountain ram, whose passion and wisdom he seeks, drives the young lovers north—first to Seattle, then to the remote Alaskan wilderness. Alone on the unforgiving ridges of Mt. Wrangell, his imagination increasingly unhinged, Ransom begins to devise and act out a dangerous animal mythos, which he documents in a first-person manuscript, and in songs or “chants” that detail his transformation and pursuit by a pack of strangely familiar wolves.
The feverish hunt leads from the wilds to civilization and back again. And when the lovers return to brave the perilous mountain together, the truth behind Ransom’s imagined transformation emerges. What they discover in those frozen heights threatens their love as well as their sanity and their lives.
Is Ransom inspired by a transcendent truth, or prey to a misguided fantasy? As his grip on reality weakens, the reader shares Ransom’s fears, his hopes, and his extraordinary discoveries.
Wild Animus, Shapero’s debut novel, is a search for the primordial and a journey to the breaking point. It is a story of love and surrender, of monomania—of striving, at all costs, for a bliss beyond fear.
Discover the Visual Art
“We needed a painter with a visionary leaning, who could portray the other-worldly aspects of the slide and the things those buried might have experienced. At the same time, the story occurs a century ago, so we didn’t want the pieces to have a modern look. We needed an antique surrealist. Paul Rumsey was perfect. I think the paintings capture the power and mystery of the event, while preserving the helplessness and humility of those caught up in it; and his two-tone palette gives it the sense of history and a time past.”
“The slabs were photographed at magnifications ranging from 1X to 5X by Cameron Nelson. Slabs were placed on a copy stand with a black posterboard background in a room with a skylight. All photos were taken using only that natural light source. No filters or additional lighting were used.”
There is a striking connection between Ramón Alejandro’s paintings and the specific events and ideas in Island Fruit Remedy.
“Ramon gave me the characters and events, and it was his outlook on gender that helped me make Wood’s experience concrete.”
The late Visionary artist, Donald Pass, provided the artwork for The Hope We Seek.
“I first became familiar with Donald's work about eight years ago. I heard about his vision in the churchyard, and I found it easy to believe that the scenes depicted in his paintings came from a real experience. They are that vivid. That impactful.”
Rich’s passion for the work of Visionary artist Eugene Von Bruenchenhein motivated him to seek out and publicly display the best of the artist’s paintings from 1954-1963 at vonbruenchenhein.com.
“I first saw Eugene Von Bruenchenhein’s paintings in 2003. I found them mysterious and evocative, and full of energy. The more I looked at them, the more they expanded beyond the borders of the frame. They seemed to carry with them a complex history, as if they were glimpses of a world distant from our own. Many appeared to depict an event—on land, underwater, or in deep space—drawn from some alien cosmogony. The paintings were relatively inexpensive, so I purchased a few. A couple of years later, I purchased a few more. And a few more. I loved the places they took me and the power they had to stimulate my imagination. Finally, my enthusiasm for the paintings reached the point that I wanted to share them. So, in May, 2009, we launched vonbruenchenhein.com.”
François Burland is a highly acclaimed Visionary artist, often counted among painters of the Art Brut aesthetic. He has brought Wild Animus to life.