Friday, May 16, 2008

Milan Bozic: Shroom

From Booklist:
"One evening in 1916, "upright American surgeon" Beaman Douglass and his wife ate some "innocuous wild mushrooms . . . fried in butter and served on toast." En route to an evening of bridge, both experienced "preternatural waves of giddiness." After dizziness, hilarity, depression, and difficulty breathing, Mrs. Douglass required treatment with "atropine, morphine, and an arsenal of emetics." "She played cards badly that night," her husband noted. Writing later for a mycological journal, he found "no merit" in the experience and hoped to "prevent others from making similar foolish mistakes." It never occurred to him that people might deliberately seek what he chanced upon. The bulk of Letcher's text concerns people doing just that. From psychoactive mushroom usage by the Aztecs and Siberian tribesmen on, Letcher lays out the history of the use and suppression of psychedelic mushrooms and how they "went from being an obscure poison to being . . . hawked on street corners" and cultivated in cellars. Pretty much essential for popular recreational-drug-use book collections."

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