in Siberia
Lawrence Millman is a man of many talents. As an author, he has written 16 books, including such titles as Last Places, A Kayak Full of Ghosts, An Evening Among Headhunters, Lost in the Arctic, and — most recently:

At the End of the World: A True Story of Murder in the Arctic (2016)
Giant Polypores and Stoned Reindeer (2013)
Hiking to Siberia (2012)
Fascinating Fungi of New England (2011)

As a mycologist, he has studied fungi all over the world, but especially in his own backyard of New England. And as an explorer, he has made over 40 trips and expeditions to the Arctic and Subarctic. The photo shows him in a contemplative mood on a beach in Siberia.


What’s he’s up to

  • June 14 — Reminiscing about Greenland at Fjallraven Outdoor Store, Harvard
    Square, 5-7pm
  • June 16 — Leading mushroom walk at North County Trust Land, Leominister,
    MA, 2-4pm
  • June 28 — Reading and talking about At the End of the World, Provincetown
    Bookshop, Provinceton, MA, 6pm
  • July 6-8 — Inventorying fungi on Naushon Island, MA
  • July 14 — Leading mushroom walk at Fresh Pond and Middlesex Fells, MA, for
    artists creating the Mystic Mural
  • July 21-22 — Mycologist at the Montpelier, VT, bioblitz, July 21-22
  • August 28-September 4 — Retreat to Lake Clark, AK, with ethnomusicologist
    Craig Corey and artist Gail Corey
  • September 5 — Mushroom talk Alaska Pacific University, Anchorage, AK
  • September 6-14 — Leading eco-visit to Cordova, AK, for Holbrook Travel

Featured Review

my latest
A True Story of Murder in the Arctic
Michael Morrison, co-author of Journey Into Climate. Jan 23 2018

Millman guides us to a place where spirits inhabit stone, snow, and seals, keep us company, and make our lives whole in their embrace. Ignoring reason and propriety, he opens our hearts to survival, to magic, and to ecstasy.

Giving himself to the wind, wet squalls, squalid homes, crusted stone, hungry water and hungrier mosquitos of the Belcher Islands and to the lives and love of the people born there, he takes the stories they tell of the 1941 murders that followed the introduction of religion deep into himself and vulnerably brings forth this book, these stories, this gift.

The Inuit are embarrassed by the murders. It is not us, they seem to feel. And, perhaps it isn’t. Millman uncovers how Christian lies severed them from the source of their strength, meaning, and the friendship of their home. Cut adrift, they lost their bearings and were wrecked on rocks far harder than those of the Belchers.

But this is only the beginning. Millman interjects diatribes about “screen-time”. About people walking down the street looking at their phones to discover the weather instead of looking around them. About the love contained in a tearstained, paper love letter, love much reduced in the same words sent by text. Initially, these interjections feel jarring and out of place in a story we think is about some distant, boreal tale of murder, meant to provide a moment’s entertainment.

It is only when we find ourselves leaving the house without our phones, embracing the wind as it howls without restraint and watch, surprised, as our own howls rise to meet it; when we feel the mortal companionship of plants, mushrooms, and animals seeping into our blood; when we make love with the swirling, dancing, unbridled world from which we have come, that we see that, just as the Christians cut off the Inuit from their strength, we are further cutting ourselves off from our strength with our ferociously-paced technology. Only then do we see that this is not some safely neutered, ink-and-paper docudrama, but is, in fact, a shaman’s unapologetic dance from outside the bounds of Civilization. Only then, like finding an arrow scratched in the earth leading us home in a storm, does the enormity of Millman’s gift land with its full weight.

— Michael Morrison, co-author of Journey Into Climate. Jan 23 2018

Order your copy today at indiebound.org, amazon.com, or barnesandnoble.com.

Recent Posts

An encounter with Terana caerulea

Terana caerulea!Not so long ago, I was visiting a stamp-collecting friend, and I happened to see the corticioid species Terana caerulea on a recent Macedonian stamp. A corticioid fungus on a stamp?? I was beside myself with astonishment, since corticioids (aka, crusts) are the outsiders of the fungal world, either despised or ignored. A mycophile of my acquaintance refers to them as “molds.”

There’s no reason to despise Terana caerulea, however. The name of its former genus, Pulcherricium, will tell you why. The species is an intense cobalt blue when fresh and a pleasant bluish color when not so fresh. Even the spores are bluish in color. The surface is smooth or slightly tuberculate, with a waxlike consistency. Inhabiting hardwood debris, T. caerulea can be found in New England, although it’s far more common in the southeastern part of the country.

Here’s my hope: that other countries will start putting crust fungi on their stamps, and in this way help to stamp out a more or less worldwide prejudice. I can imagine the bright-red Phanerochaete sanguinea on a Seychelles stamp and the wine-red Cytidia salicina on a Tunisian stamp. I can also imagine the yellow hydnoid Mucronella flava on a Serbian stamp and the green-blue Byssocorticium atrovirens on a Danish stamp.

Dare I hope that America, perhaps the most anti-corticioid of all nations, will put a (for example) gold-yellow Lindteria trachyspora on one of its stamps?

Photograph by Brian Luther.

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