Wild Animus by Rich Shapero: a Modern Masterpiece?

by Robert Nagle on 2/25/2005

in Literary/Ebooks,most popular

Today I am going to tell you a story about an odd literary encounter.

About two months ago I was at a used bookstore in Houston and noticed two college students browsing the modern literature section. One of them pulled out a book and pointed it out briefly to the other.

Normally I don’t make conversations with strangers, but in this case I had to. You see, I had a very distinct memory about this book, and for another person even to pick the same book up was an interesting event in itself. A year ago, while attending a game developers’ conference in Austin, I received a free copy of a book from a man standing outside. (As a freelance book reviewer, I am used to having review copies thrust at me, but not outside on a city street!) I talked briefly to the person distributing the book, but he was just distributing it (and had a boxful of others to give away). Obviously the book came from a POD/vanity publisher (not that there’s anything wrong with that!), but the binding was good enough and the writing seemed competent enough. I never had the chance to read it, but I did put it on my bookshelf on the off chance that I might want to pick it up later (crazier things have happened).

And now at the bookstore in Houston 150 miles away, these students had picked up the same book to talk about. I politely asked the girl why she was interested in this book.

The girl laughed and said, “Gosh, it’s the strangest thing. This man was giving away the book around campus. Everybody seemed to have a copy of this book. It was holding up tables, serving as doorstops, even serving as firewood.” Both students went on to relate the crazy contexts in which the book would turn up in people’s dorms; the book seemed to be everywhere.

“So what school do you go to?” I asked them. “I’m assuming you go to UT Austin.”

The girl’s reply left me speechless. “Oh, no, I’m just visiting Houston for the week. John and I go to University of Montana.” In other words, some man (or group of people) were distributing this same book at two college towns thousands of miles away!

I looked at the book more closely. My copy at home (labeled “Review Copy”) had peculiar marketing details on the back cover: 50,000 first printing, National Advertising budget of 100,000; Four City National Tour. I’m guessing a good portion of that advertising budget came from the author’s pockets.

Then (I couldn’t resist) I had to check amazon and the publisher’s website for more info. The Amazon listing showed over 70 comments about the book, almost all of them uniformly (even hilariously) negative. Some examples: I read this because someone mistakenly gave this to my 9 1/2 year old son, thinking it was a novel about nature, and we were all largely stuck inside for a week of -10 degree weather in Western Minnesota. Or: This was one of the worst book I have ever read. I only finished it because it was given to me as an advanced reading copy and I needed something to read while hitting the treadmill at the gym. I would give it ZERO stars if Amazon would let me. Or, in another review labeled “Worst Book in the Entire World,” one commenter writes:

This book was so bad, the author was giving copies away at a farmer’s market. That should have been a clue, but the book cover was interesting enough to make me want to read it. But once I started, I couldn’t put it down. I couldn’t put it down because I wouldn’t allow myself to believe a publisher would actually print this rubbish about an acid-head mountain climber who wanted to be a goat and jump into a volcano. I had to see if the story would get any better. It became an obsession really to read until there was something interesting in the plot. It never happened. I cried. I pulled my hair. I broke out into a rash. I began to binge drink. I became angry with people close to me, but there was no solace to be found. I wasted my time completely reading this high school paper. Why? Why? Why? I feel like my brain was raped. Can I file charges?

Another comment?

Unfortunately, I can’t give this book ZERO stars because the minimum is one – actually, I’d give it NEGATIVE stars! I received a free copy of this book a year ago and did my best to try and get through it, but I just couldn’t do it, it’s got to be the WORST book I have ever read. I can’t even tell you all why in more specific terms because I’ve done my best to eradicate from my memory the disgust I felt at having read as much as I did.

One more:

This is the worst book I have ever come across in my life. I received this book for free while leaving the state fair and my immediate response was, wow, it must be really horrible if they have to give it away. Now, I really don’t consider myself as an ultra-intellectual but I can confidently say that this book is not well written, creative or groundbreaking in anyway. It seemed to me that this guy was a man with a lot of money or some kind of “in” and got this book published by mistake. My roommates and me actually use this book as bathroom entertainment and highlight passages that we find comical.

Actually, one reviewer Brian M. Wise  found redeeming qualities about the book object:

I found this book a delight to have around the house.

It served quite well as a monitor riser for my LCD screen.

My friend and I needed a book to add weight for a tofu press.

Pages 200 to 225 made wonderful firestarters when covered in paraffin wax.

One night, we took the cover and walked around the downtown Seattle area hiding our faces behind it and saying “Wooo, wolf eyes, scawwy wolf eyes”, while three people behind us kept asking people “Have you seen the walruses?” in Scooby-Doo voices.

One night we drank too much and began reading the worst prose we could find in voices like Darth Vader and Mickey Mouse over a microphone to loud techno music. People apparently loved this prose more than Lynne Cheney’s book on lesbian sexual relationships.

The cat ate pages 123 to 127 when we ran out of catgrass for him to chew.

The door below sometimes slams shut when coming in and out of the apartment, so rather than going out to buy a doorstop, we use the book!

Every so often you can pick a random phrase out of it that makes you howl with laughter.

Handing it to someone who’s taken more than six hits of acid in their lifetime and asking them whether it’s accurate in the description is highly amusing – especially when you get their faces to screw up like you’ve just asked them to kill the baby Jesus with a rusty spork.

It is an excellent candidate for book frisbee on a sunny afternoon in the park.

I take it with me when camping in the case that I run out of toilet paper.

Gosh, I’m sure I could find more excellent uses for this most entertaining book. If paper cuts were something desired, I’m sure you could add that as a bonus, since the cheap paper on the books provides HUNDREDS of those to the reader.

However, you might not want to expose your cortex to the language. It puts me in mind of the Douglas Adams characters, the Vogons, whose poetry is only the third worst in the galaxy. That, in of itself, is a distinction.

Like the movie Showgirls, this book is so jaw-droppingly bad that it’s an entertaining read just to see how badly a book COULD be written. It’s not just a gigantic cliche, it’s a cliched parody of every 1960s novel or poem written by every poet or writer seeking truth within the American experience.

So if nothing else, it’s a marvelous book to be used for anything except reading.

It’s clear from the Amazon comments that the book has been freely distributed in New York, San Francisco, LA, Denver, and probably a lot of other places. People gleefully have been trashing it from all over the country. Bookcrossing, for example, lists over 100 people who have picked up the book and found something to say about the book, some not altogether negative. Among the Amazon comments were several top 1000 reviewers (including the Amazon.com top reviewer Harriet Klausner). Clearly, these amazon.com reviewers were solicited by the author or publishing house, but still they gave the book a fair amount of reserved praise.

Some things are clear from this. First, somebody has financed an extremely zealous and expensive marketing campaign. Second, though the book is strange, slightly offensive and alienating to many readers, in fact the book is not bad, just different. A longish interview with the author on the publisher’s website is thoughtful and shows that the author is not an idiot. He’s a fan of Knut Hamsun and J.G. Ballard, is reasonably well-read and comes from a relatively successful career in the IT industry. Shapero makes it clear he is more interested in being provocative than producing great art:

R: Thornton Wilder’s The Bridge of San Luis Rey. A mess of a book. The story doesn’t go anywhere. But the question it asks and the way the question is framed is so thought-provoking that it’s a valuable experience. I read it when I was a kid, and the question has remained with me my whole life. Sean Penn’s movie, The Pledge, struck me the same way. Not a well-told story. But the question it raises and the answer it gives are so unusual and so powerful, who cares? It’s like an experiment where things go haywire, but the scientist stumbles onto a precious truth. If stories exist to enlighten us, potentially to change our lives, the thoughts they leave us with are a lot more important than their technical virtues or vices.We’re talking now about one of the great misunderstandings of art. I don’t believe that art has much value when it’s used for self-affirmation–choosing art that pleases you, or rejecting art that displeases you. That’s just playing the Siskel and Ebert game. Art has value when it challenges you. When it rattles you. When it distresses you. When it poses questions you haven’t answered or been able to answer. When it forces you to grapple with something you weren’t aware of, or didn’t understand. When it forces you to change your self-definition. That’s how art becomes an enhancement to life, rather than a retreat or escape from it.

When people opine on what they like or don’t like about a work of art, I wonder if they got any benefit from it. When people talk about the idea presented in a work of art, and whether it was true or false, it’s a fair bet that they came away with something.

This attitude (a little defensive-sounding) is at least coherent: people don’t need to like his book to be changed by it in subtle ways. Good or not, the book has acheived its purpose in being talked about by a lot of people (even on this weblog). The marketing campaign operates on the premise that if a book successfully saturates a society to a certain point, it will find an audience (somehow). If Shapero is right about anything, it’s that oblivion means certain death for artists and intellectuals. He seems skeptical that society recognizes important ideas or works of art fast enough; this blanket campaign is an attempt to increase the probability of a nuclear isotape going radioactive.

I haven’t read the book yet, (though someday I might), but I have to say that the mass of negative comments about this book arise partially from the fact that it was a free gift (and it’s easy to deride the value of something you didn’t pay for). In fact, if the book were published on a smaller scale and only made the rounds of literary/naturalist circles, it’s quite possible that the book would receive better reviews (though a smaller amount of attention). I still have no idea whether the book merits serious critical attention or whether I’d like it. But mainstream marketing assures mainstream types of reaction.

The other problem with the reviews is that the readers seem to resent the investment of time involved in finishing this awful book. Oh, really? So the helpless reader couldn’t have chosen to stop reading? Nobody was holding a gun to his head. I am a  voracious and catholic reader; yet there are lots (thousands!) of books I never will get into. And I don’t. And I don’t suffer from guilt or anger as a result. In this day and age where it is a rare coincidence to run into someone who has actually read the same book you did, I really don’t want to hear protests from people who didn’t know how to stop.

It’s a little like hearing complaints from a few hundred men about what a lousy lay somebody was. The fact that a man slept with her means that at one time he found something attractive about her. Frankly, the world doesn’t care about lousy lays or tainted love. They want to hear about the times when romance succeeds or when the union of two people in sex or marriage brings something interesting or remarkable. The fact that I have fallen in love with Person R doesn’t mean that Person S is awful. And if I fall out of love with Person R, when I start complaining about it, that says more about my own standards than Person R’s intrinsic qualities as a lover.

Social forces do exert pressure on individuals to certain works of art. Look at the photo below:

My Albanian host father was holding up a book by former Stalinist dictator  Enver Hoxha. Hoxha wrote several “bestsellers” (actually Marxist diatribes or autobiographies or –gasp–even fiction!) and hundreds of thousands of the books were printed and distributed everywhere. Every Albanian household was expected to possess copies and be familiar with their contents; now it is nothing more than a joke.

We are not living in Communist Albania. Here the tsunami of books by Dan Brown, Stephen King and Michael Crichton may seem inescapable. But we are not drowning; it’s easy to avoid the onslaught of multimillion dollar PR frenzies if we choose. As consumers and intellectuals in an age where books, dvd’s and mp3′s are everywhere, our job is to collect, filter, promote and even to ignore. What we collect becomes a part of us; works that don’t hold meaning or value need to be discarded or forgotten about. If our library consists of Stephen King, Metallica and Reese Witherspoon movies, that is who we are; if it consists of Giuseppi Verga, Siti Nurhaliza and I was Born But, that also defines who we are. Occasionally, in organizing our collection we have to exclude or discard. That’s natural. A massively-funded and carefully-orchestrated marketing campaign doesn’t absolve us of the obligation to choose our baubles carefully.

Update January 2009. Apparently the person in Austin who handed out the free sample has found my blog and written a comment here.  We communicated privately by email and made tentative plans to recreate our meeting, and  I will ceremoniously hand him back the book he gave me.

May 2009 Update. Apparently, according to one librarian, in the World Cat database, the sound recording that is available in the greatest number of libraries in the world is ….Wild Shapero’s Wild Animus (with Harry Potter books ranked number 2,3,4,5 and 6). (Do this query dt= “rec” and rank by number of libraries).

May 21 2010 Update. Amazingly,  a box of Wild Animus books was mistaken for a bomb at Yale University. Could we be overlooking the obvious possibility that Rich Shapero is  a terrorist trying to infiltrate the literature departments at our universities? Zeke Miller reports:

The Yale Police Department and New Haven bomb squad responded to a report of a suspicious package outside Woodbridge Hall today, but the apparent threat proved to be a false alarm.

Officers arrived shortly before 5 p.m. and closed Beinecke Plaza and part of Wall Street between College and High streets. Bomb technicians donned protective gear and used a robot to inspect the brown cardboard box, which they found contained copies of the book “Wild Animus.” Wall Street was reopened about 20 minutes later.

Similar boxes, with the same “Wild Animus” books, were seen elsewhere on campus Tuesday, including in front of Saybrook and Trumbull colleges.

New Haven Police send bomb robot to examine Wild Animus books (Jeff Kaiser, photograph) Literary bomb defused! (Charlie Croon, photograph)

November 2, 2012 Update. Amazingly, ads for Rich Shapero’s new ebook have started appearing as ads on my Kindle. Arrgh! I haven’t started the first novel!

{ 175 comments… read them below or add one }

Hubert September 6, 2006 at 7:09 pm

Too right this was a massive marketing campaign. I recieved a copy of this book in Amsterdam last winter. The other week I saw a Wild Animus sticker on my friends bag. She said they’d been giving out in Galway, Ireland not so long ago. Last weekend I saw people giving out W.A. audio C.D.s at the electric picnic music festival in Laoise, Ireland. I think Shapero is doing some hardcore l.s.d. public relations work here.

Jeppe March 30, 2007 at 3:38 pm

Free CD’s handed out yesterday at Copenhagen Business School, Denmark. What a massive marketing campain!!!

Bad Seed April 4, 2007 at 1:08 pm

he is doing something in Shanghai lately.

Janto April 15, 2007 at 12:42 pm

I don’t see it as a marketing campaign, because the CD The Ram changed my life. I figure if it came into my hands for free and I enjoyed it, I’m not going to complain. I haven’t read the book yet, but the spoken word CD series is worth a listen to anyone interested in psychedelics or survival journeying or vision questing.

anonymous June 25, 2007 at 10:05 pm

Defecating onto a page does not count as writing a novel.

wild animus hunter(beware of the anti animus) June 25, 2007 at 10:04 pm

dude….come on. this is really the worst blasphemous act on the human or ram brain ever carried out that i have ever encountered personally. I think it broke my brain when i was reading his album lyrics aloud to my friends to show exactly how remedial his songwriting actually was. usually i wouldnt devote any amount of time to write about bad music, the music is just so horrible on so many levels. “the flesh is sizzling, limp muscles twitching, the bones have cracks, the cracks leak marrow” This guy had to have lost his mind. Who knows maybe he had a tragic hiking accident and cracked his head on a rock and when he woke up he thought he was a ram. we should have never cut funding to the looney bins.

anonymous June 25, 2007 at 10:06 pm

This has to be the worst piece of “art” ever, period. “pad, pad, pad, pad, limp muscles twitching, the flesh is sizzling as he firebarbs pry the joiiiiiiiinnnttss.

This music has permanently disturbed my psyche. Can anyone help me?

Rich Shapero, wild animus, and the ram do not even deserve negative stars.

briznasty August 13, 2007 at 4:22 pm

I was givin the CD by my friend who had grabbed two of them while at Lollapalooza in Chicago. THIS CD IS GARBAGE… I’m glad no one gave me the book. Calling my friend right now to tell her NOT to listen to the Wild Animus CD, this guy may be retarded.

cmbadams August 16, 2007 at 2:11 am

hey, I get what you’re saying about maybe it’s not as bad as people are making out, maybe it’s just perception, etc, and why would they keep reading if it is so awful.

I can’t speak for any of them, but I gotta say: see for yourself. you don’t have to read the whole thing. pick it up. open it to any page at random. read two paragraphs. if you’re not clutching your head like a stunned monkey by the time you’re done, well…I’ll be surprised.

I’m really happy I read it, and I think it should be taught in writing classes at every college in the country. the author doesn’t just write badly. he makes glaring, horrible authorial and stylistic decisions on every single page. it’s a nearly perfect example of everything a fiction writer should *not* do.

seriously.

try it.

Ruthiblu August 21, 2007 at 11:53 pm

Maybe it’s an experiment to see if complete crap will eventually become popular if the market is sufficiently flooded with it. I think it’s a test of human stupidity or gullibility. Some genius market guru bet his friends he could make ANY book a best seller. It even has a CD as a tie in product.

Rune September 5, 2007 at 6:06 am

I recieved a copy of the CD yesterday in Aarhus, Denmark and though the CD is crap, it sure is interesting that we’re so many people around the world commenting on this “phenomenon”. I believe Rich Shapero is laughing his ass off where ever he might be at the moment…

Anna September 7, 2007 at 11:00 am

I was given the CD this august in Tampere, Finland.
I was listening to it but I don’t find it interesting.
Anyway, I agree with Rune: maybe it’s crap but look how many of us are talking about it!!!

casey September 30, 2007 at 11:56 pm

I agree with all your comments, except one: “though the book is strange, slightly offensive and alienating to many readers, in fact the book is not bad, just different.” I’m not sure how you arrive at that judgement without having read the book. I have read the book (I got it free from BookCrossing), and found it to be terrible. This is not because it was “provocative”. While I know some readers found certain aspects offensive (personally, I did not find it offensive, but to each her own), the book itself was not what you’d call provocative. Though you’re right that a good book changes the reader in subtle ways, this book does not do that. It’s not the kind of book that ‘makes you think’. It is merely a poor quality novel. Of course, that’s only my subjective judgement, but I think enough fellow readers agree with me to add some weight to this viewpoint. Perhaps with time, practice and feedback from editors, Shapiro’s writing would improve. This is what is lost by self-publishing.

casey September 30, 2007 at 11:57 pm

Oh – one more thing! I live in Canada, so the book has not just been read all over the US, but outside it’s borders as well :-)

Also, Shapiro is now distributing free Wild Animus music:

http://www.wildanimus.com.au/

Jamieson Wolf October 2, 2007 at 2:56 pm

It’s funny, actually.

I had gotten the book free from Book Crossing years ago. I thought it was alright but it was kin do of a gyp to have the ending revealed.

I thought it was more along the lines of an experimental novel, maybe like Kafka on drugs?

I listened to the music off the web site and have to say it reminded me a lot of Bob Dylan. The man can’t sing but the lyrics sure make you think.

I think the entire thing (Book, CD, Art) is really an experiment in what is art, what is literature, what is music? Some have been able to push the envelope and succeed. Others, like Shapero, are not.

Either way, I’m preparing to take the voyage again, just to see if my first impressions were right. I’m getting the book and CD (for FREE! Gotta love that) tomorrow in the mail, so we’ll see how the voyage is many years later.

Oh, and I’m in Canada too.

animalcracker November 17, 2007 at 5:08 am

Art has to “rattle,” “disturb” and otherwise stir you up into emotional anarchy? How about…now follow me here…How about art ENTERTAINS? Or is simply PRETTY? Or makes one FEEL good? Why are we stuck in a place where “ART” has to repulse and “challenge?” This has not been the historic call of art. We really need to grow the hell up, people. Art is many things, but ever since we called vandals’ graffiti “art” we have lost it, yielding to the wimpish desire to evaluate (if that is possible) NOT by what we bring from the piece, but by what the piece imposes upon us. Bassackward. My hundred or so favorite books, movies, etc. score on many levels. Top among them is craft. Then, how they make me feel. And being “disturbed” or “challenged,” (altho I might be) is not a big part of it. Sites like this explain how so much “challenging” garbage is published and created these days while many perfectly brilliant works by normal people for normal people go un-observed. I quit.

Sober Colm December 21, 2007 at 7:02 am

Everyone should listen to the CD. I just laugh my head off every time I think of it. It is the worst album ever created. Imagine the sound engineer in the studio, how did he record it. He must have been sick with laughter the whole way through. I cry every time the CD is on it’s that funny. What a massive pile of hilarity pants.

Lorriedk March 15, 2008 at 10:31 pm

I just finished this novel- I work at a public library and it had been discarded.
I found it bizarre, yet I continued reading it till the end. I skimmed many the lyrical chants of Ransom and found myself wanting to hear more of Lindsey’s story. I felt the author must have had first hand experience with LSD. It did leave me with an impression-
and some books leave me with none.
Somehow reading it – I experienced a bit of getting into his ‘blue jar’ – where he kept his pills

Susan April 8, 2008 at 5:02 pm

Well all, He is now sending free copies of the book in printa dn on CD to Public Libraries here in Ontario, Canada. All 13 branches inour system received them in the mail today. Who is this guy, a Bill Gates pseudonym or some other billionaire with more money than brains?

Alex April 26, 2008 at 9:08 am

Maybe it’s an experiment to see if complete crap will eventually become popular if the market is sufficiently flooded with it. I think it’s a test of human stupidity or gullibility. Some genius market guru bet his friends he could make ANY book a best seller. It even has a CD as a tie in product.

Hoffman boys June 14, 2008 at 2:11 am

Oh this album changed my life, alright. Now, I want my life to end sooner… so I might have less of a life to live with the memory of these GOD AWFUL HORRIBLE HIDEOUS LYRICS coiling about in my brain like epileptic snakes! Somebody KILL ME! Rich Shapero! I hate you! I hate the Ram!! Die Ram! I love roast mutton! Long live MUTTON! AND MINT JELLY!

Robert Nagle June 14, 2008 at 6:12 am

As the writer of the original piece, let me say how amusing I find these comments. Maybe we can …form a political movement?!

Young Hoffman June 16, 2008 at 8:02 pm

Well, unlike most of the people on here, I think that Rich Shapero’s contribution to society far outweighs anything I have ever heard/read before in my life… NEVER, in my entire life, have I laughed so hard at the god-aweful horrible music, and message that he is trying to send… And the best part is… It’s 100% honest. Nothing makes me laugh more than envisioning this millionaire writing these books and albums, thinking that everyone in the world is suddenly going to get into the “Ram trend” and start living in the wild, being chased by wolves, and launching into cock and spring assaults to the ATTEMPTED rythme of his beatless/rythmeless/joyless/mind-shittifying music…

o August 28, 2008 at 1:51 pm

Robert – you were one of the first people to get a free copy of Wild Animus, just so you know, I probably handed it to you. The best stories won’t be told, I assure you – there were plenty.

[Note from Robert: We communicated privately by email and made tentative plans to recreate our meeting, and I will ceremoniously hand him back the book].

ADHD Librarian September 22, 2008 at 9:05 pm

The book has hit Australia. One of my staff just showed it to me (but she had done her research and as such decided to gift it to the head of our creative writing school, I’m sure he can use it as a case study?)

Tom from Sweden September 23, 2008 at 3:56 am

Bought both cd:s (one with music only and one double-cd with both music and spoken words.) I payed approx. 3 dollars for both. Now I wonder, dare I listen to them? Or will my life change, considering all comments here? Please give me som advice!

Tom from Sweden October 1, 2008 at 1:07 am

I listende to the music and was surprised. It gave me the same vibes as I got listening to the Incredible String Band in the early seventies. From THAT angle the music is really good and refreshing.

Primary School Teacher October 16, 2008 at 7:21 pm

This book has arrived at a Primary School in Darwin, NT Australia. I’d love to know where, how and why we got it!!!

Justin March 1, 2009 at 6:16 pm

I hated reading the book and felt like I was wasting my time. But I did walk away with some of the ideas. There is one part where Ram man is raving about how we were flung off from the molten heart and are now all embers loosing heat. I agree with that idea. Not a day goes by where I don’t feel and mourn the lack of passion and vigor in my life deeply. Still I don’t think LSD is the answer.

solongago April 16, 2009 at 2:44 pm

Although I’ve never heard of this book, I see that OCLC/WorldCat lists the AudioBook of it as being held by more libraries (1,946) worldwide than any other sound recording. In 2nd to 5th place are all Harry Potter AudioBooks.

Mike Jar April 24, 2009 at 12:30 am

He’s giving his book away for free? Ahhh, so that’s how we landed on a couple dozen copies. It was interesting to try to put myself in his pespective and appreciate more of the natural world. But uh… can anyone get me some LSD? I want to be found dead at the bottom of a cliff in a ram costume…!?!??

Mike Jar April 24, 2009 at 1:01 am

I just litened to the music on his website. Cringe!! God awfull!! I just want to let you know that i will “choose” not to finish reading this crap.

Gobias Koffee December 2, 2009 at 9:38 pm

Just got a free shrinkwrapped copy (book and CD) in Harvard Sq Cambridge a couple of days ago. Must have cost a few bucks to produce and manufacture. I should have asked the people handing it out if they were volunteers or not. Haven’t checked it out yet. Only slightly joking when I say I wonder if it will plant subliminal messages in my brain.

Andrew K December 4, 2009 at 11:31 pm

I just got a copy on my campus at Columbia University in NYC. For free. And checked online to see what it was about. Hilarious.

Jimmy Mike December 19, 2009 at 2:56 am

My friends received a copy of the book/cd combo and passed it on to me this evening. I listened to the first few tracks of the CD, but only out of morbid curiosity after the first, wondering if it would all be of a similar (i.e. near-horrendous) standard. I have not begun to read the book, and do not know if I will, but if it is anything like the pretentious and forced lyrics found in the songs, I don’t think I will.

shelly December 28, 2009 at 7:24 pm

This book has become a legend among my friends. At a certain point during a gathering or party, someone will inevitably say, “Page number, please,” and proceed to open the book and dramatically read that page. It’s funny enough that the requests for more readings go on and on. Great party game. And really, fun to laugh at those who think money can make up for lack of talent.

Sole January 6, 2010 at 7:28 pm

A shrinkwrapped boxed set of Wild Animus made it’s way into my hands this afternoon at UCLA. A young man was handing them out as “free art.” I have no idea what is inside the box, as I have not yet removed the shrinkwrap. It is currently sitting on the floor of my car, where it will probably remain for a few weeks until the need to clean out the backseat becomes dire. After reading this blog, I find myself in no hurry to delve into its contents. I accepted it because the cover art seemed interesting, and I briefly read something about nature and rock climbing on the outside. As my younger brother is an afficionado of both, I figured I could pass it on to him. I think I’ll spare him the ordeal. Then again, he is also an afficionado of hallucinogenic drugs so he may very well enjoy it…

Philip January 6, 2010 at 9:27 pm

Some girls gave me this in the middle of the street one day. They said “free promo of performance art” but it was obvious they just wanted to get the copies off their hands. Kind of bizarre if you ask me.

What do I do with this thing now?

Kent January 8, 2010 at 5:44 pm

The music CD (The Ram/Wild Animus) was behing handed out (actually more like thrust into everyones hands) outside of the “Schnitz” just after a Tori Amos concert in Dec. 07, Portland, Oregon. I’m sure someone by now really, really wants their VERY own copy of this intriging worldwide social experiment. Serious Inquiries Only – Mint Condition! .

SanDiegoStudent January 12, 2010 at 4:58 pm

I just recieved a free box-set copy from a girl at the Farmers Market at University of California, San Diego campus. It came with the paperback book, CDs and a letter from the author. The girl described it as “Into the Wild meets Fear and Loathing” and that it was a true story…. After reading the amazon.com reviews and this blog I find it highly unlikely that I’ll bother to read the book. Although, I will be fair and give it a try.

Boston Student January 19, 2010 at 8:00 pm

Got a box set on campus. It included 3 CDs and the book. The music is awful.

Ram Chaser January 21, 2010 at 10:56 pm

I just finished the book and admit that it is somewhat odd. But my conclusion is that I would keep this book in my bookshelf. I like the plot of the story and some crazy, illusive expressions in it. A couple of times, I thought I would throw it away… but there is something that kept me come back to the book. I am glad I finished it…and I am planning to re-read someday. Wow!

David Salsa February 3, 2010 at 1:46 am

I very much enjoyed this book. I did a video review of it on my blog: http://lamentedemcmurphy.blogspot.com/2010/02/wild-animus-more-like-wild-awesomus.html.

It was distributed freely to me in New Jersey.

barris February 4, 2010 at 1:11 am

I read about 1/5th of the book and I don’t think it’s that bad. While it isn’t great, I disagree with people who say that it’s not thought-provoking. There are parts of the book that I think are quite profound–they are very rare, but there are one or two paragraphs that I was impressed with. This guy had a trippy time in the mountains and wanted to share his experiences with other people for free…what the flying fuck is wrong with that? If you have ever thought about living in the mountains whilst dropping acid and having sex with a hot blonde girl, then this guy wrote a book about it for you. That’s one of the main joys of reading, to get other people’s perspectives on things you haven’t done yourself.

In addition, the book is a good way to learn new vocabulary words related to the geology, flora, and wildlife of Alaska because it is free and captivating enough to get through a substantial amount of pages in one sitting.

I think that the key to enjoying this book is to cut the author some slack and realize that he GIFTED you this book. Suspend your disbelief and throw him a bone, do not just dismiss him as a crazy dude who thought he was a ram and wanted to jump into a volcano. Otherwise you’re not going to enjoy the book.

UCSDstudent February 9, 2010 at 10:10 pm

Here’s some wikipedia info on the author and his book. Some of it explains the low quality of the book. And, apparently, he went to UC Berkeley. I don’t get it. Really.

Rich Shapero (1948- ) is an American venture capitalist [1] and self-published writer. He grew up in Los Angeles and attended UC Berkeley.[2] He is a partner at the venture capital company Crosspoint.[3]

Wild Animus
Shapero’s book Wild Animus was released in 2004. He used print-on-demand technology and his own publishing company to create the book, and has given away large numbers of the book for promotional purposes.[4].

A CD, The Ram, that is linked to Wild Animus, was released in 2006. It has, like the book, been given out promotionally in large numbers. Contributing musicians include Marc Ribot, Jim Campilongo, Charles Bissell, Jim Keltner, Iva Bittova, Hutch Hutchinson and Lee Rocker.

His books have been passed out on campuses throughout the northeast. Most copies were immediately discarded.[citation needed]

PITTstudent February 23, 2010 at 1:27 pm

Just got a copy with the CD’s thrown at me on the University of Pittsburgh campus. Took me a while to figure out what it was. Very professional looking package though. Still thinking of uses for the contents.

JSchattie February 24, 2010 at 6:33 pm

How interesting…. I received this book years ago while leaving a Reel Big Fish concert. Denver must’ve been one of the first distribution cities.

I find it entertaining that they’re still hiring people to hand it out (they’re not volunteers, by the way, they get paid $16 an hour) – I don’t remember the book terribly well, but I remember being amused at how illogical and unbelievable the story was. It felt poorly written to me because of how one-dimensional and unnatural the characters were.

I’d be interested to perform an experiment: write a book and self-publish the way Shapero has. Then, simultaneously, hand it out for free in one half of the country and sell it for more than it’s probably worth in the other half. See what the reviews are, and if having to actually pay for the book creates more intrinsic value than giving it away for free.

DickinsonCollegeStudent March 1, 2010 at 6:06 pm

They were handing the book and CD set out today at Dickinson College in Carlisle, PA. Regardless of the content, which I have not read or listened to yet, it seems to be an effective marketing campaign. The box and CDs have some very interesting art on them, but only time will tell if it is just a facade.

Evergreen State College Student March 2, 2010 at 9:24 pm

The complete box sets were handed out at Evergreen State College in Olympia Washington today. Three guys with a pallet of books. It was obscene.

Gaetano X March 10, 2010 at 11:36 am

I fount this a dreadful piece of ‘art’.
Free copies were handed out at The Farmers Market at Schmidts inPhilly.

Carrie March 22, 2010 at 7:55 am

… I received my copy in Harvard Square 3/21…some guy practically put the box set in my hand…I found the encounter so odd I had to return to the Hotel and look up the book…so I guess this marketing campaign in still in full force.

Robert March 22, 2010 at 12:16 pm

Just got handed this box set on a street corner at University of Delaware. They people handing them out had like 500 of these box sets. The packaging looks like it probably cost him a bunch, so well done there. So seeing that the guy invested all this money and was giving them out for free I was thinking that he must be really confident that he has something great. I was really hoping that it was going to be some underground indie writer with a brilliant musical/literary experience.

Got home, put the CD on, nearly pissed my pants at how incredibly ridiculous the songs were. The horrendous lyrics fit oh so perfectly with Mr. Shapero’s unintentionally comical vocal styling. Even more hilarious was the amount of studio musicians who performed on each ear-raping atrocity – who really needs 4 separate electric guitars on a folk song??? On one “song” he credited squirrels as performers because they “chattered” in the background. After listening, I dare not try to read the novel.

My roommates and I have a theory that this is just a giant joke on everyone, that Richy boy is trying to outdo Rick-Rolling. If its a joke, well done sir, well done. If you see people handing these out on your campus, do yourself a favor and pick one up, you’ll be endlessly entertained haha.

Ben March 31, 2010 at 1:54 pm

Someone was handing them out at UMass Boston today. The thing is very nicely packaged, but completely atrocious otherwise. Seriously. Everything that needs to be said has already been said in the comments or the review. My only disappointment is that I didn’t have the opportunity to ask the guy handing it out what *he* thought of it. A job’s a job, I guess.

UofOStudent April 5, 2010 at 6:18 pm

They where handing out the boxsets today on campus they had about 20 boxes and were just shoving them in peoples hands as they passed, we didn’t even get an option of taking them or not, so I came back and looked it up, and it looks like I won’t even be opening up the packaging,yeah for a new doorstop!

Beth April 6, 2010 at 9:52 pm

Well, they struck SUNY Binghamton as well. Haven’t opened it yet, but the packaging is nice. Disappointed, but not too surprised to find out this is not so good. Glad I didn’t pay for it, though, because I’m a sucker for a slick looking design…

CJH April 8, 2010 at 3:41 pm

The bookstore at Colorado State University is handing away free box sets. Haven’t opened mine yet. I thought it actually looked pretty cool – great marketing. These comments have helped prepared me for what’s in store, lol.

Tom April 8, 2010 at 9:28 pm

I was just given a free copy at Northeastern University in Boston, MA. I searched google for reviews of the book and came across this.

Andy April 12, 2010 at 1:58 pm

Just got a copy at Portland State University in Portland, Oregon.

Great place to give people books about “acid-headed mountain climbers.”

Mark Landry April 13, 2010 at 12:23 pm

Free copies handed out at the University of Portsmouth in the UK today! They were left on tables, bus stops, and I even saw a group of people using the CDs as frisbees. Still wondering whether to give it a go. First few tracks of “The Ram” are, to say the least, underwhelming. And to say the most, diabolical.

Anonymoose April 14, 2010 at 6:31 pm

Free copies handed out at University of Illinois in Urbana today. The Ram being compared to bob dylan in a previous comment makes me sick. It’s more like Family Guy’s Version of Randy Newman. It was terrible, uninspiring, and it’s offensive to even mention bob dylan in the same paragraph. i think it’s a trap.

dp April 18, 2010 at 1:54 pm

pointless , didnt finish , got given it free outside uni in Glasgow, Scotland, Uk

Jonny April 26, 2010 at 6:01 am

I was given the Wild Animus box set(cd’s, etc.) outside of Lucent L’amour, a Valentine’s day event(by the DO LAB!), in Los Angeles. I was on a good dose of ecstasy at the moment, and I was admittedly blown away by the fact that someone would be so generous with their art. I inquired about the contents of the book, and the woman who’d just given it to me asked me if I knew anything about LSD. I responded enthusiastically, YES! She went on to describe in detail what the book was about & it’s relation to LSD. Needless to say, I was very excited. So, after opening the box I decided I’d leave the music for after I’d read the book(apparently a good idea according to you folks), in hopes of having a deeper understanding. I just got through to the the eighth chapter & had previous to tonight not read a single review of the book, or looked into the writer. I have noticed the looseness & pretentiousness of his writing, along with all the faulty transitions & poor concision & yes I figured out that the beginning is the end(wack!). BUT, the message that I’ve understood so far of love & his almost subliminal messages about LSD(what I’m talking about is his ability to properly describe the “ways” it opens your mind) have had me riveted. The ram & all that is to an extent vague, when interpreted directly, but what it represents is utterly mindblowing. If you’ve ever taken LSD before I think you have an advantage at catching onto it, for those who haven’t, I’m not surprised that this flew over your heads a bit. ….but while I’m in the position of not having read the entire book, I just might be up for some unpleasant surprises. I can’t believe I wrote this much, but I guess it’s because that’s how strongly I feel about it at the moment. I’m very interested to see if I end up loving the book or not. I’ve always been considered “unique” in my life & most times not by choice. The reason I say that is because it seems that EVERYONE hates this book & I want to see if I’ll end up being the odd man out, again. I guess I’ll have to get back when I’ve read the whole thing through. Wish me luck…or not’

Craig April 28, 2010 at 9:44 am

Just been given a box set with the book and three CDs in Sheffield, UK. Not sure I’ll bother with it!

Natalie May 7, 2010 at 5:14 pm

I live in Portland, Oregon, and the book is being passed out here, on the Portland State University campus. I haven’t read it, but it was given to me yesterday. In spite of the bad reviews, I think my curiosity will inevitably get the better of me.

Luther Blissett May 12, 2010 at 12:18 pm

They were handing these out at Duke University today – box with book and CDs. Everyone on the quad seemed to have one in their hand. I took one because it sounded interesting, but haven’t opened the shrink wrap yet. It’s an international phenomenon. But why? Who is paying for all this?

maninahat May 13, 2010 at 8:56 am

Got this box set in Newcastle University last week. I’m in the process of reviewing it. I’m amazed someone had the money and the time to deliver this book so far and wide. Especially as it is for free.

The book is as god awful as everyone else is claiming. I understand that this is self-published work, which leaves me wondering how many rejections Shapero might have had from publishers and agents before deciding he’d do it his own way. Unfortunately, some people don’t get the picture: if no one will publish your book except yourself, that says a great deal about the value of your book.

Confused May 15, 2010 at 3:53 am

Viral is right. I live in Brisbane, Australia, and during a completely spontaneous bout of house-cleaning, I happened upon this book. A book I have no memory or recollection of recieving. A book that has somehow managed to magically appear within the walls of my house.

Josephine May 17, 2010 at 5:23 pm

This is hilarious! I am at university in Durham, UK and picked up the book in our student’s union where it was being distributed for free on the day of my math exam thinking it would be a fun thing to do on a day filled with algebra… And then googled the author to see who he was before reading it. I haven’t read it yet (picked it up today), and your “review” intrigues me: I am torn between not reading it, or risking it!

Marketing, Wee May 17, 2010 at 7:55 pm

Well, just got a copy of the whole thing (book and all 3 CDs) for free at Oregon State University on campus. Tried the CDs (hey, free music right?)… yeah… not my cup of tea.

Ash May 18, 2010 at 6:38 pm

How can Shapero be making any money if he just keeps giving his books/cds away? I got the box set for free today on Northwestern’s Evanston campus and decided to look it up. All I can say is thank god I decided to research the book before starting to read it.

Jaz May 21, 2010 at 9:48 am

To continue the global theme, I got a copy of this this morning outside Tara St. DART station in Dublin, Ireland .. this guy obviously has more money than sense :)

Adam Bourke May 22, 2010 at 3:22 pm

Ha ha, I got a free copy of this book at Edinburgh Uni, Scotland, UK. Haven’t read it yet, but having read this page I might do. I Review SF&F Books normally, and I’m not entirely sure what this is, but I might make an exception. Seems to have become a global phenomonon….
What’s going on!?

Klaus May 28, 2010 at 10:00 am

And the book box found its way back to Aarhus, Denmark today – it’s really wired.

Hannah August 15, 2010 at 11:22 pm

Just got one handed to me at Otago University in Dunedin, NZ! Is there anywhere the book doesn’t go?

PhilosopherZurg August 16, 2010 at 7:55 pm

I’d just like to add to the mix that today I recieved a free copy at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand! Prior to this I’d never heard of the book or the artist.

craig August 16, 2010 at 10:45 pm

Three or four boxes full of these books outside Victoria University in Wellington NZ today. Not even anyone giving them away, just box lids flapping in the wind.

Book looks a right turd.

joejoethemonkey August 16, 2010 at 11:19 pm

Just picked up my copy at the Australian National University, Canberra. This amount of worldwide publicity is super intense (and super stupid). If they are giving it away for free, could it really be good?

Lysander August 17, 2010 at 12:01 am

Wow!! This thing just keeps on going. I just got the box set handed to me at UNSW, Sydney! I’d love to ask him why?!? And why is he targeting all these uni students?

W F Taylor August 17, 2010 at 5:33 am

Also from outside U of O NZ.
I asked the guy a few questions & he was very evasive. I particularly wished to know where the money he was paid came from. He started with “it was tied up with the University”; when asked if the U. paid him he said “No.” When pushed more he stated that he was “Paid by a friends mother”… “my friend needed a hand”…”I didn’t ask where they came from, a job is a job.”.
I didn’t believe that he was that uninquisitive, but he didn’t want to say any more.
I didn’t want to be marketed to so I left it behind, but my 11yr old son came by minutes later and came away with a copy.
Today, after a brief discussion he google it and this site came up second after Amozon. We had a great laugh reading the comments, read a couple of paragraphs from the book and that will do me; did not attract & still don’t wish to be manipulated.

ANUGakuseidesu August 17, 2010 at 6:21 am

Throwing in that I had my copy handed to me today at Australian National University, Canberra.

Summerfaire August 17, 2010 at 11:58 pm

it managed to get to Wellington, New Zealand… oh dear

Cole August 18, 2010 at 12:34 am

Today I also received the book at the University of Waikato, Hamilton New Zealand. After reading this I may use it as a door stop

casob August 18, 2010 at 3:21 am

picked up the book + CD set outside Victoria uni in wellington NZ today.
read the book at the start of the year (feb) and was interested to see what the CD was all about. Turned it off almost as soon as i put it in.
The book is not as bad as some have stated, in fact at times is quite poetic.
When the protagonist is lost in his drug-induced moments the writing can get quite picturesque and flowing.
However the general idea of the story is quite loose, and the main character somewhat disappointing .
Still, the lengths they are going to with marketing is quite ridiculous, wonder how the guy makes any m0ney giving out this many free books.
worth a read, but doubt it will change many lives.

Joe Priest August 18, 2010 at 7:19 am

A copy of this book appeared on my bookshelf half a year ago, at home in Oslo, Norway. I have not been able to discover how it got there.
Got about half way through, but found myself getting slightly depressed, every time I picked it up.

Kathryn Stumpf August 19, 2010 at 2:21 am

Was given a copy of the book yesterday at Griffith University in Brisbane, Australia. My curiosity was significantly piqued. Shapero’s distribution campaign is remarkably pervasive, but so too are the MANY comments from all over the world about how terrible ‘Wild Animus’ is! Amusing if nothing else.

Christopher McCullough August 19, 2010 at 12:33 pm

Found three copies of the book in the bins on my university campus this year. Seeing how prevalent the distribution of the book is worldwide, it’s a tiny bit scary now.

Samwise Hemmings August 24, 2010 at 9:24 am

We got them today at The University Of Wollongong, East Coast Of Australia :D

Haven’t given it much more than a casual peruse. We used it to carry some pastries today, seemed to do that pretty well.

aline resendiz August 27, 2010 at 3:26 am

Wow i just receive the book in RMIT city campus, both the 3cds and the book itself… hahahaha all that coments are making me, instead of not reading, read it!!! hhahaha i think I’ll have more fun, since is not my original language and will get something else. Now im listening to the music cds. Part of them still didn’t catch the words, but it is interesting is very atonal… but anyway i have heard worst crap in the radio…..

billy August 30, 2010 at 3:01 am

I got a copy in canberra, australia too. Seems that they’re really getting around but what no one’s explained is why? Does he just want to get his work out there? Or something deeper/darker? I haven’t read it – I figure a free book will be trying to push some agenda… Anyone know more about Shapero?

Cathy Collins September 1, 2010 at 4:44 am

Well my copy was handed to me on the 1st day of Spring at Sydney University.

Justin Marquis September 2, 2010 at 4:23 pm

Box sets with the book and accompanying music were being handed out on Loyola University, Chicago’s campus today. Weird.

rjwe September 6, 2010 at 5:13 am

I had both a copy of this book and some sort of audio music box set thrust at me at Deakin university in Melbourne, Australia today. I was going to throw it out but after reading how crap it is I feel compelled to read it now

melbourne_student September 6, 2010 at 9:50 am

hahahaha yes i got a copy of the box set book and CDs today at Deakin uni as well!!! the CD’s are gold, definitely have to give them a listen… they will change your life and probably make you hate music

Adelaide Flinders Uni student September 7, 2010 at 5:03 am

Ok I don’t think I will read it, haven’t you guys seen the movie “The Ring”?????? Be careful be very careful

Daniel September 8, 2010 at 6:40 pm

I’d just to add in that I got given a copy of this book at University in Hamilton, New Zealand! This book has a serious bankroll.

Sam September 8, 2010 at 8:50 pm

Made its way to Monash Clayton today. I am torn between the desire to see what it contains and the belief it is some form of cultic propaganda

C Chica September 11, 2010 at 10:38 pm

I happened upon the box set sometime this past July while attending a 7 week leadership/academic program at Princeton. I was inside east pyne lying all alone on a sofa chair. I passed by it for a few days and finally decided to check out what was inside. It seemed very interesting and I wanted to take it with me but I was sure it belonged to someone who would come back for it. After a couple weeks, I decided to take it to someone working in the languages department. They didn’t know who it belonged to and told me I could take it with me because it had been on the chair for weeks. I knew nothing about it, but it looked cool. Now I’m not sure what to do with it. I think I might read the first few pages.

Marc September 12, 2010 at 9:48 pm

Hey, I just got given this book this morning at UNSW, Sydney, Australia . . . it’s really doing the rounds . . .

willie September 13, 2010 at 9:51 pm

Yeah i just picked it up at Victoria University, Wellington, New Zealand. Its still shit

Nz September 14, 2010 at 12:38 am

Got given this today at VUW in New Zealand.

T(H)W September 15, 2010 at 7:08 pm

Was given the book on a school excursion to the city in Melbourne, Australia.
Normally, I take pride in the fact that I possibly read more books/novels and stories in the whole school. This book made me realize how terribly naive I was. After finishing a chapter, my head was spinning and my brain was losing over a billion cells/second.
I placed the book on HIATUS and checked online for any comments, which lead me to this. Hell, even I can write better than this and I’m only Year 9.

Austin Lewis September 19, 2010 at 3:46 pm

This thing is still going! I had no idea that, upon receiving this book from a group of young men with a box on the Illinois State University Campus, I was gaining a piece of history. I suppose we might call this a cult classic book? Do they have those? Can this be the first one?

anonymous September 21, 2010 at 12:15 pm

haha i just randomly got this book yesterday at Duke, and it makes me giggle how this is making such waves because of its awfulness. the guy handing them out said that this book was about a guy who goes into the wild and discovers himself. after reading these comments, though, i wonder… i havent started reading it yet, and may never get around to it now.

lb September 21, 2010 at 5:51 pm

Yeah I got given this book on campus – I go to University of Auckland in NZ.

I read a page, and gave up. It’s shit.

Brandon September 24, 2010 at 9:56 pm

Got this book while walking around campus at NYU. This actually just intrigued me enough to seriously consider reading the book.

Brianna September 28, 2010 at 4:42 pm

I got this from a stack of free books at a fair in my town about an hour out of chicago. I kind of laugh at the amount of copies I see in the thrift stores around town.

Eleanor Maw October 2, 2010 at 4:08 am

I have had some enjoyment out of all this Animus project, the music is nice to listen to but would be enjoyable if the lyrics were better, they are somewhat naff, the book is somewhat strange and I can only spend about half an hour at a time reading it, saying all this I think it make much better reading than Harry Potter, so it’s got something going for it.

esther October 3, 2010 at 4:16 am

Yesterday I found this book lying outside of my dormroom door, in Copenhagen, Denmark! I then noticed it outside all the other doors and it’s practically all over my university…What a waste of resources.

sian October 13, 2010 at 12:55 am

I received my copy in Wellington, New Zealand today. A lovely young man was giving them away near the dairy/ milk bar on the corner of Salamanca Road and the Terrace. I saw many refuse the generous gift and thought it would be kind to accept it. The lovely young man thought the author was giving them away to excite interest in his next publication. I have one question: is it worse than The Loop by Nicholas Evans?

Scott October 13, 2010 at 7:28 am

They’re currently handing these out to people not fast enough to get out of the way at Salford Uni in the UK.

After reading the many, many comments on this book, I’m actually looking forward to reading it just to see how bad it can really be.

oliver October 13, 2010 at 1:18 pm

I live in Paris and I was given a (beautiful) box today at the university, containing the book and the 3 CDs. Everything is translated in French, even the lyrics in the CDs booklets !

It puzzled me (I thought it was distributed by a sect of some sort), so I made some researches and I found this blog … wow, this book appeared in 2004 and is now distributed all over the world ! The guy really wants the entire planet to listen to what he has to say … and has a lot of money to spend.

Maybe I’ll try reading and listening, all that is really curious …

Anne October 14, 2010 at 1:22 am

I’m from New Zealand. I recieved this book the other day, they were giving it away in front of my uni campus. I have to say, this book is atrocious, having only managed to read the first five pages. I do plan, however, on using it for some of the aforementioned purposes other than reading. Thanks for the tips!

Doctor Who Whatt October 15, 2010 at 2:27 am

No need to whisper then. I am not alone.
Got mine yesterday at ANU Canberra
Well packaged, kind girl giving it away
Flicked the book – interesting sections…not bad ending, but those CD’s – awful
Not music – not a story –

When does this end. It can’t be viral in the positive sense _ no one is paying and no one is praising….

Pip October 18, 2010 at 11:03 pm

I just got accosted at QUT uni in Brisbane…. spicks and specks material?

Nadja October 20, 2010 at 7:23 pm

I got the CD, The Ram, handed to me at Uppsala University back in 2007 maybe… At first I hated the music and found the lyrics destinctly odd… Then I listened again and suddenly I was addicted… I don´t know why exactly… I listened to it constanly that whole spring of 2007 and I still love it… Which is strange because my taste in music is otherwise very conventional… The music just gets me high, there is somethin pulsing and beating in the music that is just addicting… slightly scary actually. Maybe I´m mad, but I like it, I´ve even learned to like the lyrics, they´re very… graphic and almost ridiculously brutal, but if you´re able to embrace that type of aestetics it´s enjoyable… It´s a great CD… or I´m just brainwashed…

fault October 20, 2010 at 10:20 pm

Was handed a copy today at University of Ballarat, Australia – it smells funny.

University of Ballarat again October 22, 2010 at 1:02 am

I came upon an entire box of them walking to my car on my way home last night. mmmmm how odd I thought, a professional looking production just waiting for someone to have a five finger discount. I can now see why – listening to one of the CD’s, sounds like a weird and very bad cross between Willie Nelson, Lou Reed and new age/inspiration.

I’m kinda disappointed I wasn’t approached to take one – I would have liked to be “sold”

Interestingly, for those that haven’t been “lucky” enough to receive one for free you can get one for $29.95 on ebay! hehe http://shop.ebay.com.au/?_from=R40&_trksid=p3907.m570.l1313&_nkw=wild+animus&_sacat=See-All-Categories

Am October 29, 2010 at 1:29 pm

Just received one in the northern england town of Durham. The animus’s reach is strong.

Vic November 8, 2010 at 8:36 am

Going for free in the University of the West of England, Bristol, UK student union shop today. Apparently they were given 2500 of the things and can’t get rid of them…can’t say I’m really expecting to enjoy it but intrigued enough to try!

Rich November 10, 2010 at 12:03 am

Just received the free book at OCAD University in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Amazing how widespread this distribution network is.

xUWLx November 16, 2010 at 5:03 pm

Same as Rich above, was given this book outside of OCAD in Toronto today, a week after Rich got his. They’re persistent.

Steffanye November 16, 2010 at 11:25 pm

They handed this book to me on a street corner earlier this week in Montreal. The guy handing it out said that the author had a lot of money and just wanted to give the book away for free. But I just can’t believe that they have been handing out since 2004!! How many copies of this book did he print before he realized it was a huge failure?

Peter November 22, 2010 at 9:00 am

Good grief. The cancer of this book has spread to England. It was being handed out today on Sussex University campus. It would be hilarious if it were not so tragic.

jess November 23, 2010 at 3:12 am

I also received a copy in Toronto last week. After looking up one negative review after another, i decided that most people didn’t have the same experience that i did. If i may offer a suggestion to anyone who didn’t understand it: read it high. it will blow your mind. Even sober, the imagery took me to places very few books have been able to. It felt like i finally found someone who sees the world as differently as i do. It is being called the worst written novel and the worst piece of art ever created, but i rather enjoyed the experimental style. It felt a little bit like reading a journal, in the sense that it was very raw, emotional, and seemed as though i was viewing peoples lives from a place very personal to the characters and perhaps the author. It didn’t have me wanting to rush out and try LSD, but it made me feel like i already had. That being said, i didn’t care for the accompanying audio, and the storyline was insane, but as an experience, the novel really worked for me. Realistically, this book can only be reviewed as an experience, or else it will continue to be ripped apart by anyone who knows anything about literature.

HAYYYBOYYY! November 23, 2010 at 3:14 pm

Got the book in the UCI the other day. The university of Ireland in Derry City. Is this book everywhere?

Tory November 24, 2010 at 9:20 am

This was being given out in Queen’s University Belfast where I work this afternoon. They are (unsurprisingly) being taken by students quite happily despite being unaware of the content or the who the author was. I opted to take one for the team and in the space of two hours I had read the entire thing and can now give what I consider to be a reasonable review of the book. Free or not, I’ve read a LOT worse.

If you’re looking for a ‘simple’ read then it’s certainly not for you, you do have to take a few moments to doubletake certain passages and the ‘story’ does have a tendency to jump. This method of writing seems to work well with the story considering the nature of the message – from what I gathered the story is one that tells the tale of a descent into madness and therefore it will seem a little peculiar.

Oddly it touches on a subject that most young adults experience today – a sense of loss, isolation and uncertainty about their own futures. This is all weighted down with responsibility and the stress of other individuals expectations. In an attempt to escape the individual (Ransom) embarks on a quest to rediscover himself and this has severe consequences.

The author has an extensive vocabulary but I wouldn’t say he uses it to the best of his ability. Certain parts of the story are difficult to read and as I mentioned before, you will have to go back and reread certain passages to grasp the real meaning. In addition to this, it’s difficult to fully appreciate the characters presented in the book as they appear to be very superficial. On a personal level I couldn’t connect with them and had to analyse what I read by stepping back and regarding the book as a whole.

While the constant use of drugs isn’t something I consider very desirable, it is an interesting take on how vulnerable and suseptible a person’s mind is to the affects and the lasting consequences. Having never experienced drug use before, I can’t really attest to whether these reactions are ACCURATE but as a plot device, its use did help to get the message across.

It’s certainly not the most uplifting and enlighting book, but I would encourage people to give it the benefit of the doubt. It doesn’t take that long to read and by the end you can draw your own conclusions. Some people might pick up on a message in there, others might not but you’ll never know until you give it a shot yourself. Critics don’t necessarily get things right (movie reviews are a prime example) and it often helps to experience it for yourself.

That being said, if you were looking for a pleasant and optimistic read then you may wish to avoid it.

SP November 30, 2010 at 9:15 pm

Copies handed out today at Concordia University campus in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

CSUStudent December 8, 2010 at 1:16 am

I’m a resident assistant in a residence hall at Colorado State University. Found a copy of the book lying in the middle of our hallway, but when I asked, none of the girls who live here said it belonged to them. Glad I came accross this post. Since the book mysteriously came into my hands, and this post made me curious enough, I’m now considering reading it.

How is this book still traveling so many places??

Nuimstudent December 9, 2010 at 8:19 pm

I just got one in NUI Maynooth in Kildare, Ireland. Am tempted to read it. He’s really desperate for people to read his work!

Al December 23, 2010 at 2:10 am

I work for a junk removal company. We were called to a storage locker where about 20,000 copies of this book were kept. They paid us almost 1000 dollars CND to destroy them.

Kelso January 9, 2011 at 7:39 pm

A laaarge number of these were handed out in universities around New Zealand about mid last year. I personally scored three or four copies (including the CDs). After a quick read, this book has become somewhat of a joke between friends, including those who haven’t read it. Copies get passed around for birthdays and Christmas and it’s a common conversation topic. Is Wild Animus becoming a real life meme? Is Rich Shapero successfully trolling the literate countires of the globe?

Tis January 23, 2011 at 7:39 am

OMG!!! Copies of the CD and the books in the université of Nancy, FRANCE

Jack Rousseau January 23, 2011 at 4:07 pm

I want to report that Wild Animus has travelled as far as the igloos of Norther Ontario. I am a student at an Ontario university where the book has been distributed and stray copies still resurface on tables marked FREE BOOKS.

Danny Angel February 1, 2011 at 2:54 am

I received a free copy of Wild Animus from a friend of mine who recieved it for free at the California State University in Chico, CA probably around 2006 I would venture. I was visiting her and had a bus trip home planned and she convinced me to read it becuase she never had. Though she boxed it up and moved it with her three seperate times. I am currently on page 130 of Wild Animus. My friend is asking me about it and the number one word that comes to mind is weird. I’ll admit that weird isn’t the most intellectual word to describe a book but nothing else seems to fit. I don’t dislike the book as much as it seems many people who have commented do, it reminds me a bit of Carlos Castaneda’s work in teaching of Don Juan, A Seperate Reality, Journey to Ixtlan, and Tales of Power, which I have also read. I have not heard any of the music associated with Wild Animus and in fact just learned there was music when I read this post and the comments. Strangely this book continues to pop up around the globe and now it has landed in my hands.

Anthony February 7, 2011 at 7:36 pm

Just got handed this at the University of Toronto…

em February 8, 2011 at 12:20 am

Im going to college in Vancouver BC Canada and this book just showed up in the studio!2011!

Teddy February 11, 2011 at 10:29 am

Oxford Brookes University, UK. Nothing new to add… looks terrible…

YL February 14, 2011 at 10:24 pm

Well, it’s official; Wild Animus has returned to Berkeley. I got a copy rammed (pun intended) into my hands today and words cannot describe…just–just how odd it is. One Cal Bear to another, Shapero: wtf dude?

Xela February 15, 2011 at 5:07 pm

You think that people must be desperate to get rid of this book when there are a good 10 boxes on a slushy, snowy sidewalk with a couple of people piling their arms with them and saying, “Here, it’s free. It’s a book about backpacking,” in -20 degree celsius weather. It seems like the books have been the ones backpacking all over the place. So they’ve made a little stop at McGill University…where to next?

Acorn February 15, 2011 at 9:38 pm

Hah, I see someone else has already commented on this being distributed at McGill… up here in Montreal where yes, it was pretty much freezing balls today. I’ve already read some of this because a copy was practically forced on me… maybe I’ll give it to one of my friends as a joke gift :B Or just bust it out when I see my friends back home next; I’m sure they’ll find it as (horribly) amusing as I currently am.

DT February 17, 2011 at 12:49 am

Just received this book today from my brother who attends college in Vancouver, BC. Apparently they were giving it away to the students and almost every student received one. Curious about why a book would be given away so freely, I googled the title and came across this site. I am surprised to see that these books have been circulating for free for a long time now. I do feel sorry for the writer (though I do not know what his intentions are, if any) and I will give a try reading this book. Seems like a waste of a lot of paper if I don’t try reading it.

Zorbaz February 23, 2011 at 5:10 pm

Just got this at Simon Fraser University in Canada. For free, of course. Anyone know if this guy is a Scientologist or a member of some other cult? Its the only thing that makes sense…

Markus February 24, 2011 at 9:48 am

I started noticing this book placed on the odd table at places across George Mason University. Good thing i read the reviews before trying to read it…

Diha March 7, 2011 at 3:18 pm

I got a free copy of the book last year on university campus in England 2009 and though i haven’t had the time to read it was packing my stuff up before finals and realized I had this book. Always thought it was strange how massive amounts of this book were given out free so did a Google search on the author and the rest as you know….

Diha March 7, 2011 at 3:19 pm

I got a free copy of the book last year on university campus in England 2010 and though i haven’t had the time to read it was packing my stuff up before finals and realized I had this book. Always thought it was strange how massive amounts of this book were given out free so did a Google search on the author and the rest as you know….

Elaine March 12, 2011 at 2:40 pm

I just received the book yesterday at the University of British Columbia… hahahah at least I know not to take it seriously when I read it.

Stephanie March 21, 2011 at 5:25 pm

I am in New Zealand and was just handed a copy of the book myself, people had about 9 boxes of them to give out on campus, these things must be everywhere!

Matt March 22, 2011 at 11:49 pm

I live in Auckland, New Zealand. Thats pretty much on the other side of the world from USA and today at University they were giving away the Book+CD set. I also remember receiving a free copy of the book (by itself) last year. The set is beautifully packaged and i am left wondering how someone can afford to go to all this effort? Also, as it seems to be a common trend i have yet to read the book lol.

KJ March 30, 2011 at 1:32 am

Ditto what Matt said.

Actually when I received my copy (box set, how wonderful!) last year I read the blurb and it reminded me of those stories/movies where someone reads a weird book and it turns them into a zombie or posesses them to do insane things or something.
Yes, I was scared this freebie would eat my soul.

Even down here March 31, 2011 at 3:54 pm

I am from New Zealand, and they even give it away for free at Auckland University! Seems like his campaign has truly gone global.

Reuben April 15, 2011 at 1:11 am

I’m from Hamilton, New Zealand. Everyone in our flat got accosted by people giving this book while going between classes at the local university. This afternoon we engaged in a discussion of the best way to get rid of the four copies we have that are currently crowding our kitchen table. Its a toss up between burning them or blowing them up by making a bomb from old sparklers I have lying around.

fi June 6, 2011 at 6:54 am

I work in a library in Birmingham UK, and we’ve just had 2 free (and unsolicited)copies of Too Far delivered. I presume this is the case for each of the 41 libraries in Birmingham, so that’s over 100 copies here alone. Incredible.Oh, and we had a huge campaign for Wild Animus here too, students walking through Birmingham dressed as wolves, handing out copies of the CDs.

John the Savage June 12, 2011 at 5:41 pm

Ha. I was in my town’s library the other day, and they were selling some books ridiculously cheap (yes, I know it’s supposed to be a library, not a bookstore). I picked up a copy of Too Far for 75 cents. I’m guessing it arrived the same way. Read it over the weekend. Pretty intense stuff. Yes, the writing is terrible. It was not exactly enjoyable to read. However, I was hooked anyway. I’m not sure if the characterization and plot make any sense, but the book stays in my head. Now i want to read Wild Animus. At least someday.

Eusapia June 22, 2011 at 4:15 pm

My little sister received a copy of this book while on campus here in New Hampshire. She brought it home, told me it was ‘weird’, and that I should read it.

The writing isn’t bad. In fact, it’s quite lyrical, with moments of interior rhyme I’ve found I appreciate. The content of the book, however, lends more easily to spoken word than to printed or e-page. If he really wanted to get the attention of the people, Rich Shapero probably would have had more luck dressing up as an ancient shaman and throwing himself a bonfire on campuses across the nation.

I’m turned off almost instantly by any book that claims it requires ‘the accompanying CDs’. I feel like that is a double edged sword-Shapero said he wanted people to take from his book some sense of being changed, yet gives them step by step instructions on how to be changed. It is a hypocrisy, though that opinion is probably due to the fact that I do my reading in silence.

The fact that a copy found its way to me seven years after initial publication tells me that Wild Animus is probably around to stay. I don’t think it will go down in the annals of history as a brilliant work. Honestly, the more I read it, the more frustrated I get with the short-sighted narrative of a man who is attempting to be a broad-minded and awe-inspiring creature. However, regardless of his obnoxiously ambitious campaign and seemingly endless repertoire of ways to describe the way a ram jumps, Shapero was definitely trying to show us something, and managed to utilize the rules of the road in doing so. I can respect that, even if I don’t agree.

nico July 15, 2011 at 2:06 am

Had the book on my bookshelf in Santiago, Chile… around 2007. It’s amazing that people are still receiving it for free in 2011.

What is Rich Shapero’s ultimate goal?

John the Savage July 15, 2011 at 2:56 pm

For anyone who doesn’t know, Too Far is Rich Shapero’s second book. It is about two six-year-old kids running around in the woods in Alaska.

Here’s Too Far’s official website:

http://www.toofar.com/

Apparently he’s got Too Far music too now.

By the way, Idiotprogrammer, could you put an update on this article saying that he’s published another book?

Lauren July 23, 2011 at 6:53 pm

I received Too Far & the accompanying CD last night at the capital hill block party in Seattle, it was shoved at me. I have yet to read it.

Skyring October 30, 2011 at 8:16 pm

Just letting you know I’ve quoted from your thoughtful and well-researched post in my article on Rich Shapero’s book Wild Animus.

The article is here and I’d appreciate it if you let me know whether you are comfortable with it. This issue raised some hackles in 2004 on BookCrossing.com!

monica November 2, 2011 at 3:25 pm

Just received a new book and cd at csula

John the Savage November 9, 2011 at 5:39 pm

Just bought a copy of Dawn Remembers for a dollar. It was in the continual sale a mostly-comic-book store has right outside its door. It was still in plastic wrap.

Me November 24, 2011 at 8:22 pm

I just received the book TOO FAR andn the CD in my campus on Mars.

Jack December 5, 2011 at 6:52 pm

Received Wild Animus last year on campus at the University of Southampton, UK. Received Too Far and the accompanying CD from the exact same place today. I kind of enjoyed wild animus to begin with but it slowly became more ridiculous until I found I was laughing too much to take it seriously anymore. Still, not bad entertainment for a free book.
The accompanying CD for Too Far isn’t too bad either. Very random in places but I can think of worse things to listen to. 99% of current chart music for example.

Victor December 15, 2011 at 12:00 am

There were copies of it being distributed at the University of British Columbia (Vancouver, Canada) last year.

Andy Johansen December 26, 2011 at 9:06 am

Someone, probably a couchsurfer who stayed in my apartment, left an unopened copy of Wild Animus in my room. Tried to search about it on the net, and came across this website. I think now i should pass it onto someone else. Dont want to waste my time reading it.

montréalquébecCANADA February 9, 2012 at 11:30 pm

I just receive a copy in front of my university in Montréal, Canada.

Zappa February 19, 2012 at 2:34 pm

It’s spelled out clearly on his wiki (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rich_Shapero). He’s a venture capitalist. With enough money, anything can be published.

Zappa February 19, 2012 at 2:36 pm

I forgot to include that I received a boxed set with audio CDs on the Pomona College campus in Claremont, California. I was so bewildered by the fact that I was receiving such a thing for free that I started reading, and listened to the CDs, but I couldn’t get more than a few pages in.

Vincent February 26, 2012 at 5:15 pm

In this day and age, we are all drawn in so many directions because there is so much going on. But realize, nothing is perfect, especially when it comes to preferences. You can’t call a book, a story, bad. That makes no sense. It’s not about whether it’s bad or good, it is if it relates to you or not. The books that the most people can relate to usually sell the most, and are probably written for that sole purpose, to get your money and many people buy into those type of books. And even a lot of people find one thing they don’t like and they just can’t handle the entire book. Get over yourselves. It is just a story. A story that for some, has given power to, has opened eyes, has changed thoughts, has made people value the relationships they have had or have woken them up from their delusions.

I found this book on my staircase one day as I was leaving for work. Covered looked interesting so I decided to read it on the train during my commute. Found myself reading it every time I was on the train. It was a very strange read but I enjoyed it. I definitely enjoyed the imagery, which was one of the elements that kept me reading. It’s one of those hit or miss books. If you can get into it and aren’t a boring common person, then you will enjoy reading (although there was a part in the last half of the book that was a struggle to read just cause I found it a bit boring). Going into this book I was caught up in such a material world, but when I was done, felt like so light and free from the chains of society. I could see things for what they were. I dunno if it was the book or whatever I went through during the period I read it, but I’m glad I did. Now this girl has my book and won’t give it back.

Carrotnoise May 20, 2012 at 9:15 am

Northampton, Ma.
Found this outside a thrift store next to my apt in a free box. I ran out of stuff 2 read & as I’m constantly reading daily gave it a start. I stopped to see if the music I don’t have was worth having play while reading before going on. This site has made me decide to finish reading it cuz so far I love it and I assume as my own experiment I will see if I receive The cd’s somehow now that I am AWARE man! I love Lindy but think F’ing Ransom’s a bit of a prat. I like how the trips are described & I’ve had quite a few (hundred) of my own , I just don’t like the character that’s tripping. Thank God terrorists aren’t distributing Animus…or are they…? How would they figure out that all of us in Europe, Uk & USA were contaminated by a book judging the amount of yrs it’s been “released”, scary when u think like that but going 2 finish it now I mean I’ve already been exposed.

Jessica Sideways October 22, 2012 at 12:12 pm

I loved one of Shapero’s other books, Too Far, and I did receive it free, finding it on the Auraria Campus. Sure, he does break a few of the writing rules but it was a good read all the same and I would recommend it to friends.

Needless to say, though – I have not read Wild Animus yet, but I am going to get a copy of it soon and I look forward to getting a copy of it.

Stu November 9, 2012 at 6:21 am

At Waikato management school in Hamilton New Zealand also.

boglady November 20, 2012 at 6:28 pm

Did anybody stop to think that this book given away freely by an unknown author might be a social experiment? Was anybody amazed that so many college students and others decided not to bother reading the book after hearing so much criticism of it on this site? As a result of that criticism, wasn’t anybody interested to see how he/she would react to reading the book? I read the book before being influenced by the reports. I found the relationship between the protagonist and his girlfriend co-dependent and dysfunctional. I thought, what a great description of such a relationship. I found the author’s ability to write quite good, and I’ve read a lot of literature. I urge anyone who has the unread book at home to try to read it with an open mind, and then to have an actual discussion on this website based on the complete reading of it. Finally, the plot really is interesting. Since we have become so removed from nature, we might not suspect the magical and brutal qualities of it. The role of LSD was also a continuous issue and great for discussion. Whether you like the idea of it or not, why not attempt to read it with an open mind? boglady

Bri November 27, 2012 at 8:07 am

It’s been seven years since the original post—have you read the book yet??

John the Savage December 26, 2012 at 10:34 pm

I read Wild Animus last spring or summer, having previously read Too Far (which I am a fan of, with reservations). The first chapter hooked me right in, but the last section of the book was definitely a chore to read. I think this book would be way better if it was just about the humans, and whether Ransom’s a saviour or just deluded. If Shapero just cut out the parts in black italics and described the acid trips afterwards, the book would be so much easier to read, and stil have all the interesting or philosophical content – the geography of the mountain and the repetitive chase is just not very interesting.

Danny Angel April 22, 2014 at 11:11 pm

I posted a comment about receiving this book for free from a friend of mine who was given a free copy at California State University – Chico in 2006. I got it from her in 2011. Fast forward to today, April 23rd, 2014. I am in Allentown, PA working in minor league baseball with the Norfolk Tides. We are on a road trip in PA playing the Lehigh Valley IronPigs. Our hotel is the StayBridge Suites in Allentown, PA and this morning I was wandering around the lobby area and stumbled upon a small library of books you could read while staying here. And sure as shit I found Wild Animus on the second shelf. The book continues to travel through time and space.

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