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· Fungaloids,Illustrated Books,Fine Book Collecting,Mushrooms,Natural Sciences

Regular readers of the musings will know that I love illustrated books and that I also appreciate quirkiness. This week’s effort hits both on all cylinders!

Reflections on The Fungaloids, B. L. Williamson, 2002 Algrove Publishing Limited, Ottawa.

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The weird and wonderful starts with the publisher, who I had never come across before. Before the title page of the book, there was the following little tidbit:

Publisher’s Note –

In today’s litigious world, products (including books) are often accompanied by a list of disclaimers that exceeds the attributes. This book has one primary disclaimer; it is not intended to be used for identification of mushrooms. Illustrations frequently show mushrooms that are past their prime or chosen for their uniqueness of shape rather than solely the elements representative of the species. On the other hand, the book is entertaining, educational, and aesthetically beautiful. It is a book that expands from the world of science to mysticism, cults, historical anecdotes and the current use and significance of mushrooms. It is an altogether wonderful book, but it is not a field guide for identification.

Leonard G. Lee, Ottawa, August 2002.

So, if you buy this book and eat the wrong Fungaloid – don’t call Mr. Lee!

We’ve had some great books on mushrooms, very well illustrated with photographs, but they can’t match the interpretations presented here by Betty Williamson.

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From the blurb on the author/illustrator – Betty Williamson’s interest in mushrooms began innocently enough. An inquisitive mind, an eye for beauty in shapes and colours and a natural artistic talent spawned the incredibly intricate illustrations in this book. As you turn each page of Reflections on the Fungaloids, you are taken on an enchanted journey of musings, mythology and mycology that reflect the artistic ability and literary knowledge of Betty Williamson.

From the author’s Preface: the Arboreal-Fungaloid Affair – the Fungaloids and the Trees are unlikely lovers; as partners in the creation of soil, neither can flourish without the other. Their association is close, symbiotic; the Fungaloids help make the soil from which the trees grow, using dead material supplied in turn by the trees.

I really don’t know which is more quirky: the text or the illustrations. It doesn’t matter – together they serve to delight the reader/viewer.

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Here are some of the Chapter headings:

The Midnight Mushroom

  • Its Universal Cults

Dare We Dine

  • List of Mushroom Toxins

The Satanic Connection

  • The Great Poisoners

Fungal Roulette: The Chancers

Fungaloids Traumatized

Food for the Gods: The Great Edibles

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I might have to move this book from Raven & Gryphon Fine Books to the personal library.

From now on I eat fungaloids rather than mushrooms!