Author: Sara Rich

Review – Mushroom

Posted June 2, 2024 by Nicky in Reviews / 0 Comments

Review – Mushroom


by Sara Rich

Genres: Memoir, Non-fiction
Pages: 152
Series: Object Lessons
Rating: two-stars

They are the things we step on without noticing and the largest organisms on Earth. They are symbols of inexplicable growth and excruciating misery. They are grouped with plants, but they behave more like animals. In their inscrutability, mushrooms are wondrous organisms.

The mushroom is an ordinary object whose encounters with humans are usually limited to a couple of species prepackaged at the grocery store. This book offers mushrooms as much more than a pasta ingredient or trendy coffee alternative. It presents these objects as the firmament for life as we know it, enablers of mystical traditions, menders of minds lost to depression. But it acknowledges, too, that this firmament only exists because of death and rot.

Rummaging through philosophical, literary, medical , ecological , and anthropological texts only serves to confirm what the average forager already knows: that mushrooms are to be regarded with a reverence deserving of only the most powerful entities: those who create and destroy, and thrive on both.

Sara Rich’s entry into the Object Lessons series, Mushroom, is another one which is more about the author and about ideas around mushrooms than about mushrooms in and of themselves. Mushrooms as metaphor, mushrooms in Rich’s own life, and only sometimes mushrooms as mushrooms and what they’re like.

Still, there are glimpses of what a mushroom actually is, as well as what it means to us, and there are short sections describing a handful of mushrooms you might find and how you’d prepare them to eat, and as such it felt a bit more grounded than some of the other Object Lessons.

That said, I wondered very much at Sara Rich’s apparently unselfconscious juxtaposition of “my family’s land in Kansas, which used to be a reservation” and her closeness with various Native American people. Your land, huh? You sure about that? You’re just talking about something like animism (to simplify it a lot), and yet you think your family can own that land? Hmmm.

Perhaps there’s explanations for all that in Rich’s full life biography, but it jumped out at me as an oddness (meaning that Rich’s life got very much in the way of the actual topic, mushrooms).

Rating: 2/5

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