'A Place for Ferns and Mushrooms' is a mystery/detective novel, narrated by a quasi-legal investigator. The story is designed to convey the lore of tales grown and nurtured in the north woods. Although projected through the metropolitan framework of the San Francisco Bay Area, the story is more narrowly trained on the nuances and background of rural Oregon.
Nibbling around the edges of that current American apprehension so recently spawned by multiculturalism, the book's focus is on the unmitigated fear of it all, working on the premise that the militia movement is not so very distantly removed from the recent boom in country and western music, celebrities buying large ranches in Montana, and a growing interest in folk art.
The pending collapse of linguistic, ethnic and national borders, has forced people, with no reason to have previously questioned, to seek their cultural and ethnic heritage, a search often prompted by a sense of having misplaced something, or a need to define personal identity.
An unanticipated result of reaching for those expatriated Americans, is a subsequent connection to that fringe intellectual segment of American culture, who look fondly back on the 1960s and who once read J.R.R. Tolkien, but have sadly acquired too much knowledge to any longer connect with Bilbo Baggins, and who sometimes reminisce across the wistful background of bluegrass music without projecting that neither the music nor this book could have developed anywhere else in time or place.
This collective American identity crisis, personified by baby boomers raised on Dr. Spock and always urged to find themselves, has not been reflected in popular literature, except perhaps for a revised interest in nostalgic periodicals, such as The Western Horseman and Boots and Saddle, until now.
A strong sense of cultural identity, along with a warm feeling of camaraderie, is advanced throughout this narrative, which is woven together through a story line of a mystery laced with understated humor.
'A Place for Ferns and Mushrooms' is a book designed to contrast relationships; relationships between urban and rural, past and present, hard/cold and warm/fuzzy, while accentuating the contrast between high-tech-international and home-spun-real.