...[a] moving and unexpectedly funny book ... Long tells the story of finding hope after despair lightly and artfully, with self-effacement and so much gentle good nature that we forgot how sad she (and we) are. Her daring decision to put mushrooms rather than herself at the center of her story speaks to the sort of person, and the sort of narrator, she is ... Seeing Long’s capacity for wonder and even contentment in the midst of her sadness feels like seeing tiny shoots of grass peeking from the ash in a landscape stripped bare by fire. Her memoir, beautifully translated from the Norwegian by Barbara J. Haveland, intersperses the story of her mushroom education with details of her emotional journey, each informing the other. She is a fine anthropologist of both ... At its center, this book poses a familiar, awful existential question. How do you go on living when the person you loved so much — perhaps the person you loved best in the world — is gone? Everyone must find her own answer. Long’s is as good as any.
... written by an exceptional woman who deigns to let us in on her unusual way through grief ... you will learn a lot about how she perceives people (indeed they appear to be her favorite subject second only to fungi) and her notes on human existence will delight and humor you ... you will also learn more about mushrooms than you ever knew you needed. [Woon] balances hefty scientific antidotes with the truly fantastic places her mushroom research has taken her. From perfumers to poison guides, there is nothing Woon will describe that won’t leave you hungry for more. A truly wonderful book about life and grief and mushrooms, The Way Through The Woods: On Mushrooms and Mourning deserves all the praise it has been reaping and more.
Woon writes about meeting new friends happy to wander through the Norwegian woods with her, spellbound by the hunt. As peculiar as that may sound to most people, mushroom hunters will understand immediately the peculiar joy of discovering fungi, especially rare ones, deep in the beautiful and mysterious woods ... Long is a poetic writer who melds what at first seem to be the most disparate possible topics into a profound and beautiful memoir, and one that is not at all just for mushroom enthusiasts.
... Long effortlessly weaves her innermost thoughts and anguish into her path to becoming a certified mushroom expert ... Although it is not intended as a field guide to mushrooming, her story may inspire readers to begin. It is, however, a heartfelt and honest account of overcoming loss that will give hope to readers in a simple, yet profound way. In her beautifully written first book, Long shares a way to feel anew by setting foot on a different path, discovering a spark of joy, and finding meaning again. Readers who appreciate the journeys through grief found in memoirs like Cheryl Strayed’s Wild (2012) or Shannon Leone Fowler’s Traveling with Ghosts (2017) should pick this up.
This thoughtful, touching account explores Woon’s experience learning mushroom foraging in the aftermath of tragedy. She learns not only how to identify the various edible, poisonous, and notorious mushrooms that grow in Norway’s forests (and city center), but also how to live again in her adopted home ... With charming sketches of the various mushrooms Woon encounters, this moving memoir explores one woman’s journey through grief and will please fans of personal narratives as well as those who may be interested in mushroom foraging.
The two subjects don’t always mesh well, though the author makes interesting observations about loss ... [Long] brings an anthropologist’s perspective to the book, considering various cultures’ differing views ... The book is more a collection of edifying tales and facts than smooth narrative, but it’s entertaining nonetheless. Learning about glow-in-the-dark jack-o’-lanterns, puffballs that 'smoke' when you smash them, or toothy hedgehog mushrooms never gets old. Anyone with an interest in the natural world will delight in Long’s sharp-eyed descriptions (and Viskari's line drawings) of fungi and her therapeutic rambles through Norwegian woods ... A wonder-inducing dive into the unique kingdom of fungi.
... enchanting ... It’s clear that mycology gave her a path out of despair, and her passion for mushrooms is evident as she describes the many varieties that are 'luminescent and can light up a forest path when darkness falls' ... This unique tale of rebirth after loss doubles as a riveting foray into the world of mushrooming.