The Story of Way Through The Woods
We Outsiders are no strangers to the end of life. We have often danced with it in our books; Claire Nelson and Andrew Terril's touching-the-void falls, the death of Amy-Jane Beer's friend, which put her off rivers for years before returning to write The Flow.
It was even a deathbed promise to rediscover my adventurous spirit, made to my father in a quiet room of Carlisle Infirmary, that inspired this entire project.
And yet, this is the first time when death itself, and the grief that bursts from behind the dam-wall of love, has been at the heart of our reading.
In the critically acclaimed The Way Through The Woods, Long Lit Woon walks us through her story as she discovers that death is not simply a full stop but rather a point of inflexion in a perpetual cycle.
Suddenly alone in the Norwegian culture startlingly at odds with her Malaysian upbringing, where "the outdoor life is tantamount to a religion", Woon finds solace, and new meaning, in the hunt for mushrooms.
An anthropologist by training, she brings a remarkable eye to her new community and her own experience to tell the story of two parallel journeys: an inner one through the landscape of mourning, and an outer one, into the fascinating realm of mushrooms.
Neither journey was intentional or expected; her introduction to mushrooming was largely accidental, a hangover from plans made before the death of Eiolf, her husband. And yet it proved an activity, and a community, in which she rediscovered herself. In time, even managing to free herself from the burden of grief.
Way Through The Woods is a poignant and unexpectedly funny memoir about the importance of connection, of taking things slowly and appreciating our place in the grand scheme of things.
Way Through The Woods is our October feature. Get a free copy when you start any subscription with the code FIRSTINK.