Since Wild Animus (2004), one would think that the downpour of scathing reviews had irremediably casted self published writer Rich Shapero to oblivion; the public turned the man’s name into mud. But Too Far, officially released last year, is today on our desk thanks to being a freebie.
Shapero ploughs through 2011 with stupendous ease: six years of writing and Too Far literally lands in the public eye. And the public shouts, merciless: “Indecent”, “crazy”, “entertaining in a train wreck sort of way”, what motivates Shapero to writing remains unknown. Whatever the reason it certainly has nothing to do with fame – but I digress.Too Far is the story of two children: Robbie (a six years old with Heidegger’s tendency to analysis) and Fristeen (another 6 years old that thinks like a 12 years old and likes to go naked, especially in the woods). Obviously, our two protagonists come from a very different background (otherwise it wouldn’t have been interesting) and we are soon enough (thankfully) introduced to Robbie’s Mom (a fury with critical psychosis) and Dad (an often absent rarely speaking PhD in neuroscience). Along come characters like Fristeen’s mother Grace (drug addict and often naked too) and boyfriend Duane (a bearded hoodlum).
While the kids spend most of their day outside as Robbie’s Mom and Dad relationship deteriorates and Grace gets high, their mutual love strengthens and we follow our two companions in the woods, their bastion and allegory for life. We are then introduced to a (long) list of fantastic characters, mostly inspired from the kids harsh parenthood.
From the top of the hill down to the gulley, Robbie and Fristeen dream about, inventing stories. Mapping their exploration through the wood; trees, fog and bushes gets branded a capital letter (Like That) and These Invented Characters become landmark to the children’s unravelling imagination: a patch of thin bent trees becomes “the Bendies”; the decaying features of a large willow turns onto an oracle named ”He Knows”, etc…
Treason and love thus follow through the kid’s quest to go As Far As Possible In Really Dangerous Woods. Interestingly, mimesis operates fast as the book talks to our inner 6 years old but of all characters the most interesting is the omnipresent, self-indulgent, acid fuelled writer: Rich Shapero. Thus, we are pulled into Shapero’s Own Country: lengthy metaphor and tortuous imagination often bordering what counts as bearable – we thus become hogtied witnesses to the children experiments with something that looks at first like a Growing Passion For One Another but soon turns into Discovering What Hangs Beneath The Belt. Now Shapero, you’ve already gone, well let’s say… Too Far?
Yet, Too Far earns itself a few creative credos. Besides being a pain to read – let’s be clear the book goes back and forth between unbearably mundane reality and groundless fairy tale – Shapero’s adoption of post modernism guidelines is kind interesting. But playing by the book the “Reality-is-Not” main argument, we wonder whether Robbie and Fristeen’s enjoyment at playing patient and nurse is actually a convenient input or just a gross moment.
Is it worth spending zillions of dollars to publish a book? But like everyone, and given the harsh time we live in, we do appreciate a freebie.
Oh and I forgot to say that it comes with a CD…