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The title of this short book is not explained until the last chapter, but the subtitle is clear: The mysterious world of mushrooms, molds and mycologists. I was fascinated. I had no idea of just how dangerous fungi can be - inhalation of spores, poison, corrosion of building materials to make our houses collapse. I had no idea of the massive Armillaria, probably the world's largest single organism, lurking under 2200 acres of Oregon woodland. I had no idea of the tiny Ingold fungi digesting flotsam in streams. And I had only the vaguest idea of why mushrooms are the shape they are.

It's fascinating stuff and unfortunately Money's writing style isn't always up to it; at times he is too technical for a general audience, and elsewhere is not as deft at weaving peronal reminiscence into his narrative as, say, Gould (though few could match him). But his enthusiasm shines through, particularly his almost inarticulate joy in the process of research and discovery; and his material is vastly more interesting than I had thought it could be. I enjoyed this book much more than I had expected to.

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( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
steve_mollmann
Mar. 10th, 2010 10:32 pm (UTC)
Money was a professor at my undergraduate alma mater, and my fiancée, a botanist, took at least one class with him, and contributed to a paper he wrote, "The Fastest Flights in Nature: High-Speed Spore Discharge Mechanisms among Fungi". (You can see a more visually pleasing depiction of said research in this video she put together.)

I read a little bit of Money's Carpet Monsters and Killer Spores: A Natural History of Toxic Mold, enough to be totally creeped out. One of my few phobias is of things growing inside (or on/near) me without my knowledge or control.
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