“Love, Sex & Mushrooms” is an inspiring memoir of scientific and human love stories. Author Cardy Raper discovers her passion for science while studying volcanoes at the age of eight. She meets disappointment early in college where science is taught as facts to be memorized. Cardy transfers to a contrasting university and falls in love with her employer and scientific mentor Red Raper. Readers follow their marriage and family throughout the book with one life-changing interruption: Red’s premature death. While devastating at the time, Cardy slowly recasts this robbing misfortune into incentive to make it on her own in the male-dominated world of scientific research—a feat she might never have achieved had Red lived on.
In meeting Red, Cardy simultaneously falls in love with research on fungi. Even before Red’s death, preparation for her solo career began. As Red’s reputation grew, his role as teacher and administrator expanded leaving Cardy to carry out the laboratory research.
Through flashbacks, readers experience the challenges of a mother raising a son and daughter amid two adults’ advancing careers when the concept of women working outside the home was not only rare but taboo. Her courage and persistence are rewarded: Cardy Raper becomes a world-renowned scientist for whom an honorary retirement symposium drew researchers from all over the world.
Cardy Raper’s second book, “An American Harvest: How One Family Moved from Dirt-Poor Farming to a Better Life in the Early 1900s” is published by Green Writers Press in 2016.
This family memoir conveys the inside-outs of what it was like to live the uncertain life of a growing family in the rural South trying to eke a living from eroded land without the conveniences of running water, electricity, central heating, or automobiles during the early part of the twentieth century. Readers will enjoy the interplay midst seven characterful siblings as they recall a childhood of relentless farm chores, arduous food preparations, strict moral mandates, strong religious teachings, and a need for education within a sharing, sometimes shocking, communal fabric. They will come to understand the importance of caring parents who, never having exceeded an elementary school education themselves, urged all their children to seek advanced learning and move from farming to other fields of endeavor. This account takes the reader to a time of change that could likely happen only in America.
An American Harvest is largely in the format of discourse within a large family of siblings, surnamed Raper, as they reminisce about their farming childhood together and how that childhood shaped their skills to attain remarkable success in a diversity of professions. The author explains its setting, reflects occasionally on the topics discussed, and concludes with a commentary about how and why this family advanced with the times.
This book, amply illustrated with photographs, contains a prologue, an epilogue, and is organized in 13 chapters with headings derived from aphorisms the siblings had to learn as children.