Fungal: Foraging in the Urban Forest

Fungal: Foraging in the Urban Forest

Ariel Gordon
  • $22.00

June 11, 2024
232 pages | ISBN 978-1-989496-92-3

Fungal is a wide-ranging collection from Ariel Gordon where she explores her fascination with all mushrooms, not just those you can eat. In these engaging essays she takes the reader through ditches and puddles in search of morels, through the hallways of a mushroom factory, down city sidewalks and beside riverbanks as she considers things found and fungal. Along the way there are entertaining stories of the perils of mushroom identification, including mailed mushrooms that have liquefied, or terrifying thoughts of Canadian geese being fed hallucinogenic mushrooms as well as thoughtful analysis of the ways mushrooms knit our ecosystems together and the ways we knit our lives and communities together. Smart, funny and poetic, Gordon moves seamlessly from the natural world to the personal in these essays, examining the interconnectedness of all things and delighting in the rich variety of the world around her.

Advance Praise

“In Fungal, Ariel Gordon leads us on an intimate journey through diverse landscapes of mushrooms and the people who love them, from urban to wild, commercial to kitschy. Her blend of wisdom and humour enriches the experience, offering insightful reflections and emotional depth. I loved it! I got lost in new worlds and emerged all the better for it.” – Kim Anderson, author of A Recognition of Being: Reconstructing Native Womanhood

“Ariel Gordon’s Fungal: Foraging in the Urban Forest is a perfect companion for anyone curious about not only mushrooms but the complexities of ecosystems of all kinds, natural and human-made. Every page is animated by wild energy and muddy joy. How lucky we are to have this excellent forager’s guide not only to mushrooms and their possibilities (culinary, medicinal, psychotropic) but also to big ideas, to happiness and to community.” – Theresa Kishkan, author of Blue Portugal and Other Essays

“Ariel Gordon’s Fungal is an ecstasy of attention. For over twenty years, she has pored over the urban forest, neighbourhoods, riverbanks and surrounding parklands of her Winnipeg home to celebrate the everyday, everywhere presence of beings at our feet: mushrooms. Her quirky, compelling pursuit of fungi slaps mosquitos, crams in reams of material from the library and the internet, and slogs through muddy back roads as she forages from the days of Selkirk’s treaty with Chief Peguis in 1817 to her harvesting alongside Cantonese- or Somali-speaking factory workers in 2021 and onwards to her rummaging with Ukrainian neighbours in flight from the current war with Russia in search of pidpanki honey mushrooms. Ariel Gordon treats readers to the world of wonders in a fungal spore.” – Daniel Coleman, author of Yardwork: A Biography of an Urban Place

“Ariel Gordon’s complex collection of essays clusters together like a living organism – a fleshy and fruitful species that captures the essence of life, inoculating readers with the succulence of what spawns from moments when we truly pay attention. Revelling in the intricacies of mushroom varieties – those glorious layers of spores – and treasures found in the muck, Gordon focuses a magnifying glass on what is hidden in our ecosystem, and what can be found if we look closely. The essays in Fungal are akin to the mushrooms Gordon is consumed by – they attach and root within, showing us how to forage our way through the shit and harvest joy. Make no mistake, Fungal will grow on you in ways you can’t imagine.” – Adrienne Gruber, author of Monsters, Martyrs, and Marionettes: Essays on Motherhood


A foraged passion (Jarett Myskiw, Winnipeg Free Press, 13/07/2024)
"Gordon’s enthusiasm is infectious, and her ability to work across diverse topics admirable. The poems included here feel natural and fitting, not impositions. Her writing is perceptive and funny and thoughtful. Reading Fungal, it becomes easier and more interesting to pay more attention to the outer world and less to the inner. This transmission of the appreciation for nature from author to reader is a particularly high compliment to Gordon’s work."

Fungal: Foraging In The Forest By Ariel Gordon [Non-Fiction Review] (Jenna, Falling Letters, 18/06/2024)
"Each essay links clearly to mushrooms while exploring it from a fun perspective like mushroom kitsch or growing mushrooms from a book. Several essays include poems. There’s nothing too heavy here – if you like mushrooms and you like personal reflections, check out Fungal."

Fungal: Foraging In the Urban Forest by Ariel Gordon (Erna Buffie, Prairie Fire, 11/06/2024)
"This is a book about nature and human nature that will make you to laugh, think and self-reflect. It’s also a book that combines both the sublime economy of language and keen observational skills of Ariel Gordon, the poet, with the obsessions and appetite for adventure and discovery that drive her as a non-fiction writer. It’s the perfect blend, and Fungal is more than worth the time to read."


Mended Maps: Language, Identity, and Home-Making (Ariel Gordon, 49th Shelf, 17/06/2024)
Ariel shares a list of recommended reads.

POWER Q & A WITH ARIEL GORDON (River Street Writing, 14/05/2024)
"This collection of essays will resonate with anyone who’s ever thought, 'can I eat that?' when seeing a mushroom, but also those with larger questions about our place in the natural world."

Featured Writer: Ariel Gordon (Liisa Kovala, Women Writing, 09/04/2024)
“Write what you want to read. I have really taken this one to heart. It has sustained me every time my writing is rejected or when agents and publishers pass on my collection of short stories.”


ALU Staff Summer Reads 2024 (All Lit Up, 02/07/2024)
Ariel's book makes this great roundup!

Read an Excerpt from Fungal: Foraging in the Urban Forest by Ariel Gordon (Open Book, 26/06/2024)
Ariel shares an excerpt from Fungal.

Now that it’s summer, what should you read? These are the 20 best books for the sunny (and shady) days ahead (Toronto Star, 16/06/2024)
Ariel's essay collection makes this great roundup!

Under the Cover: Fungal by Ariel Gordon (All Lit Up, 12/06/2024)
Ariel shares an exclusive piece called “Foraging for Happiness” about the joys of walking in Winnipeg’s Assiniboine Forest, the ethics of foraging, and living in harmony with nature.

Now that’s it’s summer, what should you read? These are the 20 best books for the sunny (and shady) days ahead (Deborah Dundas, Toronto Star, 16/06/2024)
Ariel's essay collection makes this great roundup!

7 Wonders of Ariel Gordon's World (Ariel Gordon, The Needle and the Knife, 03/06/2024)
Ariel shares her seven favourite things.

Once and Forever Winnipegger (Ariel Gordon, Wolsak & Wynn blog, 03/06/2024)
"People still think it’s okay to walk up to me, while I’m somewhere else touring a book, to say, 'Anything to get out of Winnipeg, eh?'"

EXCERPT FROM FUNGAL: FORAGING IN THE URBAN FOREST (Ariel Gordon, River Street Writing, 02/05/2024)
Ariel shares an excerpt from Fungal.

2024 Spring Preview: Nonfiction (Attila Berki; Cassandra Drudi; Andrew Woodrow-Butcher, Quill & Quire, 14/02/2024)
We're delighted to see Ariel Gordon's Fungal on the Quill & Quire Spring Preview for Nonfiction.

Most Anticipated: Our 2024 Nonfiction Spring Preview (49th Shelf, 07/02/2024)
Ariel's book makes this roundup of most anticipated nonfiction.

About the Author

Ariel Gordon (she/her) is a Winnipeg/Treaty 1 Territory–based writer, editor and enthusiast. She is the ringleader of Writes of Spring, a National Poetry Month project with the Winnipeg International Writers Festival that appears in the Winnipeg Free Press. Her previous work of nonfiction, Treed: Walking in Canada’s Urban Forests, was shortlisted for the Carol Shields Winnipeg Book Award. Gordon’s essay “Red River Mudlark” was second-place winner of the 2022 Kloppenburg Hybrid Grain Contest in Grain Magazine and other work appeared recently in FreeFall, Columba Poetry, Canthius and Canadian Notes & Queries. Gordon’s fourth collection of poetry, Siteseeing: Writing nature & climate across the prairies, was written in collaboration with Saskatchewan poet Brenda Schmidt and appeared in fall 2023.

Other Titles by This Author

Treed: Walking in Canada's Urban Forests (2019)

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