CA Mushrooms
CA Mushrooms

Book Review

Radical Mycology:
A Treatise on Seeing & Working With Fungi

By Peter McCoy
Chthaeus Press, Portland, Oregon
ISBN: 978-0-9863996-0-2
646 pages; $49.95

I first met Peter McCoy a few years ago at the Telluride Mushroom Festival. We were billeted to the same house, but I rarely saw him the whole weekend. He was working practically non-stop on this amazing project. One day, I heard a loud thud on my front porch. To my surprise and delight it was the long-awaited copy of his book, Radical Mycology. I excitedly opened the first pages and immediately felt overwhelmed. But, in a good way. I had spent several years, myself, laboring over a book on medicinal mushrooms and know the dedication required to write a book on this vast subject.  

To say the least, I was completely impressed. No, I should say I was more astonished and grateful that someone would take a large chunk of time out of their life to create such an amazing work for all to share. It is difficult to summarize in a few hundred words its breadth and depth. Chapters include basic history and morphology, told in a novel and artful manner. Peter does not ignore the science of mycology but due to his deep, philosophical connection is able to relay the information in a creative and novel manner. His co-operative manner allows him to include chapters on the sex life of mushrooms by Willoughby Arevalo, and “AlcheMycology” patterns by Jason Scott. There is a large section on lichens, including color pictures, which are often ignored in many books, and a fascinating chapter on the “Herstory of Women and Mycology.”  

Large sections are devoted to the use of macrofungi as food, and medicine, as well as low tech and more sophisticated approaches to cultivation. From outdoor growing techniques, to glass jars, and gearing up to larger commercial operations, this is a wellresearched primer for all levels of experience. It compliments very nicely the book, Organic Mushroom Farming and Mycoremediation by Tradd Cotter. Peter looks at various techniques and possibilities for fungal remediation, passionately articulating both the challenges and possible solutions to creating a cleaner environmental landscape.  

The book contains a very interesting chapter on “MycoGnosis” and entheogenic mushrooms, including mythology and recent human clinical trials involving psilocin and its application to psychological trauma and addictive behavior. Appendices A-Q examine various topics including various lab equipment required for cultivation, and low costs sources and alternatives to help one get started. Very detailed charts for hundreds of mushrooms include CO2 concentration, temperature, substrate options and other details are provided to help one improve their odds of successful cultivation. Other offerings include a myco-remediation game Salv Age, fungal dyes and papers, and a few really bad myco-jokes.  

This is an important contribution to the study and practical application of radical mycology. It deserves a reserved spot on the bookshelves of all amateur and professional mycologists. I highly recommend it.

— Review by Robert Dale Rogers
— Originally published in Fungi