Annalee and Natalie are two geeks dedicated to diversity and inclusion in tech, science fiction, fantasy, books, games, comics, movies, and fandom. Expect sharp feminist analysis from an activist point of view.
Is it weird I’ve been planning a mushroom-themed reading list for a long time? Probably. But mushrooms are intriguing. What other substance on earth is sustenance, poison, psychedelic drug, medicine and delicacy? There are approximately 1.5 million kinds of mushrooms (I Googled it). They survive via underground communication networks called mycelium. The biggest recorded mycelium is over 2,000 acres across, in Oregon. In the following five pieces, you’ll meet foragers, hikers, researchers, anthropologists, drug dealers and puppies. You’ll have a newfound appreciation for the men and women who devote themselves to studying these weird, wild fungi.
1. “Last Supper.” (Cal Flyn, Aeon, December 2013)Foraging for mushrooms—dinner time or a death knell? In England’s Lake District, Cal Flyn, her boyfriend, and their mushroom guidebook explore the fungi offerings of Grizedale Forest; and Flyn meditates on the adrenaline-tinged appeal of dangerous foods.
2. “No Mushroom Cloud.” (Miranda Trimmier, The New Inquiry, February 2016)There is a mushroom called matsutake, and it thrives in the wake of destruction. Miranda Trimmier reviews The Mushroom at the End of the World by Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing, which beautifully explores the relationships between capitalism, cultural exchange, environmental preservation, and, of course, foraging for mushrooms.
3. “Meet America’s Next Top Truffle Dogs.” (Marian Bull, BuzzFeedLife, February 2016) 4. “Blood Spore.” (Hamilton Morris, Harper’s Magazine, July 2013) 5. “The Trip Treatment.” (Michael Pollan, The New Yorker, February 2015)
Sarah Johannson on why video games win out over “learning to grammar”: “I mean what are all these GRAMMAR people going to do when the zombies come, huh?”
In the latest issue of Sundog Lit, S.J. Dunning pens an “Ode to Barbie Now” — “You squat in attics of deadbeat dads whose daughters circled you in catalogues we’d later find in a flood that ruined almost everything.”
“The art of the mix was gone. No intricately designed tape case, or carefully written song titles. A monkey can make a mix in iTunes. A monkey can’t cover a blank tape insert with masking tape and then redesign said tape insert with love and care.”
Below, our favorite stories of the week. Kindle users, you can also get them as a Readlist.
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1. A Marine’s Convictions
John Woodrow Cox | Washington Post | March 16, 2016 | 31 minutes (7,949 words)
2. A Sinking Jail 3. A Journey to the Medical Netherworld 4. The Art of the Smear 5. Behind Every Great Chef Is a Great Partner
“This isn’t the cheerful acceptance of the green-tea-swilling, yoga-pantsed, meditating Buddhist… this is the grim resignation of Ohio farm folk, people who canned their food, darned their socks, and survived barren winters in metal sheds while their babies died of typhus.” An Alzheimer’s diagnosis and the fear — and guilt — that accompanies it.
Flash fiction by James Claffey: “We take a few steps down the unknown road, your hair the color of burnt chestnuts . . . and as our fingers touch the silent owl flies across our path, beating wings not even a whisper on night air.”
When chef Adélaïde Zollinger was accepted into one of the best pastry schools in France — run by Alain Ducasse — she and her husband André moved from their tiny apartment in Paris to Le Puy-en-Velay, a medieval town in Auvergne, a rural region in the center of the country. On their blog, Infinite Belly, they publish beautiful photo essays and recipes that celebrate the food, the landscape, and their shared life in France.
I chatted with André and Adélaïde — who have recently moved to Marseille — about their distinct visual style, their design inspiration, and approach to storytelling.
Your writing and photography intertwine food and place beautifully. Has life in France inspired your sense of storytelling?
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Last week, I finished reading Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar, a collection of writings by author Cheryl Strayed in her role as Dear Sugar, an advice columnist for TheRumpus.net.
In Tiny Beautiful Things, what’s most impressive isn’t how thoughtful or insightful Sugar’s replies are, but her uncanny ability to make each question seem so fragile and universally human. As a writer, it’s her columns on creativity, art, and the art of writing that stand out as little nuggets of artistic wisdom.
I teach memoir writing occasionally. I always ask my students to answer two questions about the work they and their peers have written: What happened in this story? and What is this story about? It’s a useful way to see what’s there. A lot of times, it isn’t much. Or rather, it’s a bunch of what happened that ends up being about nothing at all.
Cody Delistraty | Longreads | March 2016 | 12 minutes (3,332 words)
2015 was the year of Groff.
President Obama called her novel Fates and Furies his favorite of the year. The New York Times named it a bestseller. Amazon.com bestowed its top annual pick upon it. Seth Meyers and Charlie Rose even sat down for interviews with her.
“It is my belief that Beyoncé is, quite frankly, sick and tired of misinterpretation and ignorance all together.” — The Gettysburg Compiler deconstructs Beyonce’s “Formation.”