About the Book
A Q&A with Rich Shapero
Q: Our protagonist, Wood, is a fantasist. It takes him some time to see his romantic fantasies for what they are. One has to wonder: do you write from experience?
RS: If you’re going for the truth, there’s no other way.
Q: It’s a difficult journey for him, but he finds home and hearth.
RS: He does. In a way, Island Fruit Remedy is a counterstatement to Rin, Tongue and Dorner. Wood finds what Dorner does not. The remedy is truthful to me, because that’s how I experienced it. Finding home and hearth is difficult if it’s not part of your childhood.
Q: Wood’s guiding fantasy, the “Sacred Space,” nourishes his marriage for a time. Then Wood realizes the fantasy has destroyed it. And Papaya arrives to tempt him with another fantasy.
RS: Tray’s insight about mystery is an important one. He’s trying to help Wood understand what happens when mystery becomes a paramount value in love. In many ways, mystery is the essence of romance. It gives the lover freedom to follow his or her passion wherever it leads. Mystery turns love into a creative act. Fantasies are born. Both the love object and the relationship become works of art. And romantic attachments are very appealing to artists. The outcome, however, is often unexpected: distance, insularity, disillusionment; conflict, sometimes tragedy. Mystery allows the lover to imagine whatever he or she pleases.
Q: Wood’s fantasies about his wife, Vadette, are extreme. A scorpion?
RS: If you love someone, breaking up is an altered state. People try to be rational, but the subconscious is in the driver’s seat.
Q: Wood learns to be a better partner by trial and error, through encounters with a succession of women. Is this the only way we can learn how to love?
RS: It’s the only way I know. Is anything harder or more painful? The greatest romantic fantasy of all is the one at the center of the Sacred Space: the idea that love can happen easily, naturally, without any mistakes or effort at all.
Q: The depiction of women as fruit was disturbing in some respects. Must women always be objects to men?
RS: Our Magus, the Pink Sower, tries to help Wood see beyond the objects—to understand the underlying plan. While the Sower wants Wood to see more deeply, it’s still true that the tendency to view members of the opposite sex as objects is part of our design. If you’re a male bird, your prospective mate will evaluate you initially based on your plumage and the quality of your voice. She’ll get to know you better only if your surface qualities appeal to her. It might be nice if she could somehow divine your deeper nature up front, but there are limits to how far she can transcend her own instincts. We’re not birds, but we have some of the same limitations.