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A Provocative Story for the Eyes, Ears, and Imagination

Dare to accompany a man with unusual beliefs in his rapturous transition between life and death.

“Original ideas, strong prose, timelessness and universality . . . Dissolve offers a unique imagining of what might happen to the human soul after it’s left the body.”

—Kirkus Reviews


About Dissolve

What if you could imagine, and embrace, a transmutation story about your own ending?

Wiley is a dying man, gripped by a memory from his time as a young textile trader on a remote island.

His mentor, an aging gem hunter, had unveiled to him a stone never before seen—a watery rock replete with pearly orbs that, when bathed by moonlight, came alive. What Wiley witnessed left an indelible impression.

Decades later, from his hospice bed, Wiley resolves at last to pursue the orbs, conscripting a younger man, Roan, to locate, extract and deliver the extraordinary rock back to him. Against staggering odds, Roan upholds his end of the bargain, but remains mum about the mysterious conditions under which he carried out the work.

With the rocks in his possession, Wiley implores Roan to stay, and surrounds himself with family—close and estranged—hoping the orbs will afford him the ecstatic send-off he envisions . . .

With alluring imagery and philosophical vigor, Dissolve challenges you to take part in a rapturous transition between life and death that tests, in the face of mortality, the liberating potentials of belief.

Download the entire book as PDF


About the Book
A Q&A with Rich Shapero

Dissolve by Rich Shapero

Q: Dissolve is about the experience of loss, both for the departed and the survivors.

RS: It’s an experience all of us must have, sooner or later. In advance of my own demise, my most impactful experience of death was the loss of my mother-in-law. She was a rare individual. As long as she lived, I knew only support and gratitude from her; never a harsh or doubtful word. I felt her departure keenly. I was playing with the ideas for Dissolve at the time, so losing her influenced the project greatly.

Q: Wiley’s experiences are supernatural and his belief system is irrational. What’s your point?

RS: I don’t think Wiley’s ideas about the transit between life and death are any more irrational than those promoted by traditional religions. Whether they’re sanctioned by scripture and centuries of belief, or cooked up on the fly, the stories we tell about departure all amount to the same thing, don’t they?

More About the Book

About the Artwork and Animations
A Q&A with Rich Shapero

Q: The photos of orbs, the animations, the accompanying music— Your media palette is evolving.

RS: With this, as with so many things, I remain a follower of William Blake. For me, he defined a new kind of art, where the idea was central and everything else—story, characters, words and visuals—serve the idea. We know now that he wrote music for a number of his poems.

More About the Animations