FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 1, 2008
Evolution May Never Be the Same!
Literary World’s First “Visionary Comedy” Seeks to Save the
by Channeling the Chimpanzees
Consider the dilemma of a writer who loves trees.
Every writer’s dream is to write a book. But because almost all of the paper used in publishing comes from harvesting trees, lifelong writer and committed environmentalist Stephen Wing has stubbornly resisted the temptation to indulge in his favorite literary form, the novel — until now. In March of 2008, Wind Eagle Press will release his book Free Ralph! An Evolutionary Fable.
What changed his mind? Two years ago, at age 49, Wing was diagnosed with cancer at the base of his tongue. He suffered a rare toxic reaction to his first chemo treatment and ended up in the hospital with a life-threatening fever, unable to eat or sleep. One night a story began to dictate itself in his head, and he started tapping the words into his laptop. Returning home to recover and eventually resume his treatment, he found the story continuing to unfold, scene after scene.
In his “day job” at New Leaf Distributing Co., a wholesaler specializing in metaphysical books, Wing has written promotional descriptions of thousands of books aimed at furthering human evolution and saving the planet. “The world might be a lot worse off without them,” he says. “But as a writer, I found it disheartening to see how little all those wonderful books have altered the course of history.” From Wing’s perspective inside the publishing industry, he couldn’t justify the sacrifice of trees to produce one more book, no matter how well-intended.
An early attempt at a novel, Last Testament, remains unfinished, although just before his diagnosis he decided to begin posting it in serial installments on his web site, www.StephenWing.com. But Free Ralph! is different. “It so clearly came as a gift,” he says, now fully recovered and cancer-free for over a year. “Who am I to say this won’t be the book that finally convinces the world we have to halt our headlong destruction of nature?”
The story itself is even more unusual than its origin. Wind Eagle Press, a fledgling publisher which is making its debut with Free Ralph!, declares Wing’s novel the first in a new literary genre— the “Visionary Comedy,” an offshoot of the “Visionary Fiction” category spawned by James Redfield’s 1993 novel The Celestine Prophecy.
Like Redfield’s best-seller, Free Ralph! focuses on the theme of evolution, although with a much zanier plotline. It’s the story of Kumbu, a young chimpanzee trained to perform on the trapeze in a Florida circus under the stage name “Ralph.” On the other side of the globe, an American janitor named Wilbur Trimble is fulfilling his lifelong dream of an African safari when he gets lost in the jungle and rescued by a band of chimpanzees— who happen to be Kumbu’s family.
When the chimps discover that through a rare evolutionary mutation Trimble is able to communicate telepathically with them, they enlist him to go back to America and bring Kumbu home. Rotating among the points of view of several characters, both human and chimpanzee, the story alternates between Africa and Florida and leads up to an exciting climax on opening day of the circus. Along the way, the chimps instruct their human friend in the ways of the forest and the spiritual path of wild animals— known in human language as evolution.
Free Ralph! is not the only gift Wing received from his experience with cancer. “It left me with a deeper appreciation for the miracle of living, my family and friends, and the fragile but amazingly resilient beauty of nature,” he says. If his book reaches enough readers, he hopes it will help to persuade people to take better care of the planet, which he considers the next step in our own evolution. The book includes a resource listing of organizations working to save the chimpanzees, an endangered species.
If not, at least Wing’s efforts will have a minimal impact on the trees he loves. The book is printed on 30% post-consumer recycled paper. But just in case, the author is already working on a sequel.
Free Ralph! may be ordered from Wind Eagle Press, P.O. Box 5379, Atlanta GA 31107. The price is $14.99, plus $3.00 shipping and handling. For more information or to order online, visit www.WindEaglePress.com.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Stephen Wing lives in Atlanta, where he produces a weekly newsletter for New Leaf Distributing Co. and is a Senior Editor of New Leaf’s quarterly magazine Evolve! He is also the company’s Recycling Coordinator. He is active on a variety of environmental issues and visits the woods several times a year. The author of two books of poetry, he has also published dozens of essays on environmental themes in local publications. Many of his poems and essays can be found on his web site, www.StephenWing.com, along with a more detailed bio.
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Title: Free Ralph!
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