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Fiction. Music. Art. App.


The quest for a “bliss beyond fear” drives a young idealist to the Alaskan wilderness where, alone with his dangerous ideas, he transforms himself into a wild creature, prey to a strangely familiar pack of wolves.

Wild Animus combines Rich Shapero’s primal novel with original music and the Art Brut paintings of François Burland, in conjunction with photo collages by Adde Russell, to create an immersive story experience that takes readers on a quest for a bliss beyond fear. 

“Powerful and complex.”
— Library Journal

About Wild Animus


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 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.

The complete storytelling experiment contains a novel, Wild Animus, and three CDs, The Ram, The Wolves and Animus. Experienced as a whole, the music expresses the emotional core of the story and the novel serves as its narrative shell.

Read chapters 1-3 of Wild Animus


About the Book


Q: Wild Animus tracks the obsessive quest of Ransom Altman, who, on leaving college, rejects a normal life, vowing instead to live—with his girlfriend Lindy—in a world of “inexhaustible desire.” Can you tell us more about your protagonist?

RS: It’s a unique time for most of us. That period between 15 and 21 years of age. We discover what the magic of love is about, and what surrender is about. Ransom is making that discovery, and he arrives at some extreme conclusions.

> More About the Book


About the Music


Q: Your initial idea for the Wild Animus music was that it would employ one voice (your own) and one instrument (acoustic guitar/mandolin). You’ve said that what Blind Willie McTell did on “The Dyin’ Crapshooter’s Blues” influenced you greatly.

RS: The song was challenging to listen to, but deeply rewarding. Blind Willie took bits and pieces of four or five different songs and stitched them together to tell a story. I loved the complexity, the ways in which the melodic fragments worked to portray specific moments. And I loved the surprises.

> More About the Music

Listen to the Music of
Wild Animus & View the Lyrics/Liner Notes