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Lawrence Millman is a nature writer, ethnographer, poet, arctic explorer and mycologist. He has taught at Tufts University, the University of Iceland, University of Minnesota, Vermont College, and Harvard University (Extension) and is the author of sixteen books, including At the End of the World and Fungipedia. He has received a Guggenheim Award, Fulbright Fellowship, and Bush Foundation Fellowship. He has published in many popular journals including National Geographic, the Atlantic Monthly, Smithsonian, Sports Illustrated, Outside, the Times Literary Supplement, the Boston Globe, the London Sunday Times, and the Journal of American Folklore. 

Larry lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and has made frequent visits to Woods Hole to speak about his many books and lead walks in search of fungus. He is returning on Tuesday, November 29 to give a talk about his most recent book at the Woods Hole Public Library at 4 PM, followed by a mushroom walk the next afternoon from 1-3 PM. People should call the Library at 508-548-8961 or email whpl_mail@clamsnet.org to reserve a place on the walk.

Larry’s book, just out this autumn, is The Last Speaker of Bear, My Encounters in the North is a collection of short essays about his life spent traveling in the north. He first visited northern Canada as a child and has since been on some thirty-five expeditions in search of undeveloped landscapes and traditional cultures, not to mention untamed wildlife. While much of his experience is centered in Canada–including territories from Yukon to Quebec and Newfoundland/Labrador–he includes stories from villages in Greenland, Iceland, and Norway as well.

Early on, Millman developed a reverence for the wisdom of indigenous and native communities with histories spanning centuries: Inuit, Inuk, Innu, Alutiiq, Cree, and others. Whether dining on mushrooms, fungus, tobacco leaves, or other unusual foods, or exploring the northern tundra, rugged mountains, or remote islands, he paints a picture of people often living in tenuous conditions but rooted in a faith that their worlds will provide for them. Relationships with bears, caribou, reindeer, walruses, seals, whales, and abundant avian life serve spiritual, companionship, and sustenance purposes. Traditions grounded in family and community rituals thrive, as do lost languages, natural medicine, and time-honored ways to survive difficult circumstances.

In this collection of vignettes, Millman reminds us of the potency of endangered knowledge as well as the importance of paying close attention to the natural world. He opens our eyes to a life in remote places thousands of miles from the fast-paced, urban world so many of us inhabit. 

This book has been well received, Booklist said “Lovers of Arctic lands and wanderlust will enjoy these armchair adventures imbued with Millman’s strengths of heart, mind, and humor.” Paul Theroux stated “I can’t think of a better guide to the frozen north – its people and its culture and its plants and animals – than Larry Millman” and the supreme naturalist Berndt Heinrich, author of Mind of the Raven: said simply “Captivating. A wonderful read.” 

Copies of the book will be available for sale at the talk, courtesy of Eight Cousins.