Amanda Eyre Ward, author, "Close Your Eyes"


Amanda Eyre Ward, author, "Close Your Eyes"

Amanda Eyre Ward, award-winning author, "Close Your Eyes"

Fresh back from Lithuania, I’m inspired to slink off into the woods and hunt edible gold. Witnessed through a car window so many times on our trip were families, led by grandmothers in head scarves (the mushroom matriarch), venturing out on slight trails into the forests of fir to gather mycological bounty. I’m excited to attend the Telluride Mushroom Festival again, and not just because the bookstore has become a traditional fixture in the lobby of the fest’s main venue, The Palm, offering a vast array of mushroom books and hosting authors for book-signings. I learn so much every year, knowledge that helps me understand not only my backyard, but also the state of the world from ground level. Once you experience spore passion at this level, it’s hard to contemplate not coming back for more every year. More on our temporary pop-up store at Shroomfest in a bit, but first things first …

Tuesday, August 14, 6p.m.: That’s the day Amanda Eyre Ward will celebrate the paperback release of her dark secrets novel “Close Your Eyes,” Elle Magazine’s Fiction Book of the Year in 2011 when it came out in hardcover and also recipient of a four-star review in People Magazine, a pretty big deal in the book world:
“An absorbing mystery and a stirring journey to redemption.” From her NPR interview with Jennifer Slayton in 2011: “When Amanda was a teenager in Rye, New York, a couple from a neighboring town was found murdered in their home. Almost five years later, a then-teenager was accused of the murder. He eventually admitted he had been drunk, blacked out, and could not remember what he had done. About the murderer, Amanda wrote he ‘was one of us, a teenage boy, a local.’ She wanted to delve deeper into how someone like that could become a murderer. And Amanda says she believes in happy endings and wanted to write a novel in which the murder was solved.” Which led to Close Your Eyes.

The story behind her newest novel (she’s written two others and a book of short stories) is summed up on her website: “On the night their mother was killed, Alex and Lauren were asleep in their backyard tree house. Their beloved father was sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder. Twelve years later, Lauren is a real estate agent who can’t believe in love, and Alex is still trying to understand what happened to shatter his idyllic childhood. Only one stranger, a pregnant woman on the run from her boyfriend in Colorado, holds the clues that can free Lauren and Alex.” So take the tragic memory from her own childhood, mix in an MFA, add a swizzle stick of good timing, and you get a launch party at Between the Covers Bookstore. Even though we like to think of our creaky and narrow book den as a global literary hotspot, there must be a reason we get to host Amanda’s party, right? Well, she’s been summering in the San Juans this year, a place full of good memories since marrying her husband Tip, a geologist with family in Ouray, at Inspiration Point overlooking Mount Sneffels. In an email she told me, “I wrote my first novel here over a long winter, and try to come as often as I can.” Such fun to be back in the mountains, especially now with kiddos in tow.

Please join us on Tuesday to meet this Austin-based beauty, enjoy a free reading, and go ahead, pick up just one more compelling summer read before the leaves start to crinkle and swish. We’ll have wine, you’ll have fun.

Back to boletes and such …
The Mushroom Festival, which welcomes Scott Koch as its new director, takes place  Thursday, August 16– through Sunday, August 19. Scott’s excitement about this year and beyond is contagious:

“Directing the Telluride Mushroom Festival is a great opportunity to continue an over 30-year tradition with a family of friends who all love mushrooms as much as I do. This is the only festival offering such a wide array of educational presentations and workshops and represents the most progressive and creative minds on the topics of cultivation and mycoremediation, entheogens and medicinals, the culinary opportunites, and general identification.”

When asked what’s new for 2012, he enthusiastically refers to the “Mycobrew” available at Smuggler Joe’s Brewery starting Thursday, August 16th.

“This immune-enhancing brew made by TJ Daly of Smuggler Joe’s Brewery and Tradd Cotter of Mushroom Mountain contains Reishi, Turkeytail, and Birch Polypore, all well-known for their health benefits. At 6 p.m., Tradd will discuss the properties and processes that go into this medicinal brew.”

Beer is not generally my go-to libation but I’ll be there for this historic (and super healthy) tasting for sure.

Not only will BTC sport its curated collection of all things mushroom at The Palm, but we’re excited to again feature book-signings with some very interesting observers and foragers of the natural world. The meet-the-author/signings are free and open to the public.

If you have a shroom lover in your midst, this is a great opportunity to gift them a signed book. They’ll love you forever. The schedule of signings in chronological order is such:

Friday, August 17 at 2:45pm: John Major Jenkins:

This independent researcher, theorist, and author specializes in calendar systems, particularly those associated with Mayanism and the whole 2012 phenomenon. From one of his many books he states: “A higher state of consciousness and universal understanding exists, and that it is subconsciously present in modern humans through a primordial memory, but that these higher planes of thought were more easily accessible to humans of the remote past, such as the ancient Mayans.”

Take “easily accessible” to mean visions created through administered alteration. Take that to mean from hallucinogens. The titles we’ll be stocking are “The 2012 Story,” “Galactic Alignment,” “Maya Cosmogenesis 2012,” and “Pyramid of Fire. ”

Aside from 2012 millenarianism, John will  be speaking on the “Kalevala,” a 19th-century Finnish folklore poem written by Elias Lönnrot. It‘s regarded as the most significant piece of Finnish literature and has its stamp on their identity, language, nationalism, and pride. It has almost 23,000 verses and is split out into 50 songs. Epic is an understatement. We’ll have the book John edited—”The Key to the Kalevala”—as well as a beautifully illustrated children’s version on hand.

(See related post on Telluride Inside… and Out)

Friday, August 17 at 5:45pm: Gary Lincoff, keynote speaker, Telluride Shroomfest

Gary. What would Mushroom Fest be without Gary? Donning a multi-pocketed vest and a basket, this author of the “Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Mushrooms” and “The Complete Mushroom Hunter” is always at the ready for a foray, regardless of whether it’s deep in the San Juans or in his beloved Central Park. Aside from being a founder of Telluride’s Shroomfest, he also teaches courses on mushroom ID at the New York Botanical Garden, so his credentials are as sound as his writing. His new book, “The Joy of Foraging,” is a highlight title of this year’s festival. In it, he notes that foraging can be done everywhere: in your yard, your local parks, the woods, the mountains, along seashores, in markets, even restaurants. In his words, “it’s about hunting for edible wild plants, wherever they can be found. And it’s about what you can do with what you find.” So many opportunities for the adventurous forager, and this is THE book to ignite a healthy, lifelong passion.

Saturday, August 18 at 2:45pm: Katrina Blair, Lisa Dahl, Daniel Winkler

Katrina Blair is as unique as the recipes in her vastly popular cookbook “Local Wild life: Turtle Lake Refuge’s Recipes for Living Deep.” This spiral-bound fundraising vehicle for Durango’s Turtle Lake Refuge, a non-profit whose mission is to celebrate the connection between personal health and wild lands, is chock full of the most unique concoctions. Coconut Milk Chicory Chai. Cattail Dock Bread. Dandelion Pesto. Avocado Quiche. Green Evolution Turtle Ice Dream. Elm Leaf Salad. And Chokecherry Macaroons. All of these come from a lifetime of learning. Katrina began studying wild plants in her teens when she camped out alone for a summer with the intention of eating primarily wild foods. She later wrote “The Wild Edible and Medicinal Plants of the San Juan Mountains” for her senior project at Colorado College. In 1997 she completed a MA at John F Kennedy University in Orinda, CA in Holistic Health Education. She founded Turtle Lake Refuge in 1998. And here’s what makes Katrina Katrina: She walks from Durango to Telluride for the Festival every year. And she’s not the least bit hungry when she gets here, just smiling that beautiful smile. Come meet her, your cookbook shelf will not regret it.

Lisa Dahl is a restaurateur, chef, and author of “The Elixir of Life Cookbook.” Her Sedona restaurants— Dahl & Di Luca Ristorante Italiano and Cucina Rustica—are havens of the farm-to-table concept and only use ingredients from organically certified growers. Neither restaurant is a stranger to mushrooms. Their menus regularly include homemade mushroom meatballs with white truffle cream sauce, mushrooms with basil in a chianti wine sauce, and a delicate porcini cream sauce used on beef dishes. No wonder she’s the chef for the Benefit Brunch that includes a foray with Gary Lincoff! The book, which follows Lisa as she travels to Tuscany celebrating the elixirs of the olive and the vine, won the 2011 Gold Medal Ippy Award for Cookbook of the Year.

Daniel Winkler is the author of “A Field Guide to Edible Mushrooms of the Pacific Northwest” and the just-off-the-press “A Field Guide to Edible Mushrooms of California.” Even though his books are not very proximate to the San Juans, every book on mushrooms is important. Ask regular Festival presenter Paul Stamets. It’s an interconnectedness not learned in international relations courses, but one based on the living whole. What I really like about this guy is the name of his website: That is what we do out there, isn’t it? For Daniel, it’s what he does to make a living too, guiding mushroaming trips to Tibet and South America.

There you have it: Books, cooks, and where-to-looks. Hopefully, the monsoonal moisture pattern will continue to refresh the terrain and in turn, your appetite then moves you into the forest to forage for free food. Just not on Tuesday evening, when you’ll bring a friend to BTC and enjoy the fruits of Amanda Eyre Ward, a really good writer with a meaty story to tell.




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