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Jacobsen may leave noncoastal readers drooling with jealousy, but vicarious oyster slurping is better than none.

This verbally and visually succulent book covers 99 types of oysters, most from the shores of North America.

Ten years after A Geography of Oysters, James Beard Award–winning author Jacobsen (Apples of Uncommon Character, 2014, etc.) chronicles his travels from British Columbia down to Seattle, across the Gulf Coast, and from North Carolina up to Nova Scotia, with detours to Ireland, France, and New Zealand. There may be, as he notes, only five widely distributed species of edible oysters, but the look and taste of these species vary widely based on the “merroir” (the marine equivalent of “terroir”) in which they grow up and the way that they are treated as they grow. The author’s appreciation of even the least prepossessing of these bivalves is infectious. Jacobsen makes the case that “every oyster is a tide pool in miniature, a poem built of salt water and phytoplankton that nods to whatever motes of meaning shaped it.” The lavishly illustrated volume consists of mini-essays on the geography and people of the regions in which oysters grow wild or are farmed—Jacobsen favors the carefully farmed varieties—and two-page spreads on each of the types he features, as well as a few carefully culled recipes, a list of oyster bars at which he has enjoyed his subjects, and a glossary of terms like “flupsy” and “pluff mud.” Each of the entries covers species, cultivation, obtainability, flavor, and “presence.” The latter two are where the author lets his imagination soar: East Beach Blondes, farmed in Rhode Island, taste like “brine and ozone; a boardwalk in the rain”; Maine’s wild-harvested Belons remind him of “hazelnuts and anchovies fried in seal fat, with a squishy crunch like jellyfish salad.” In terms of presence, New Brunswick’s Beausoleils are “as clean and inoffensive as a Jehovah’s Witness,” and wild James River specimens have “oversized muscles and a pale potbelly, like an aging professional wrestler.”

Jacobsen may leave noncoastal readers drooling with jealousy, but vicarious oyster slurping is better than none.

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-63286-256-3

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: July 25, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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An extravaganza in Bemelmans' inimitable vein, but written almost dead pan, with sly, amusing, sometimes biting undertones, breaking through. For Bemelmans was "the man who came to cocktails". And his hostess was Lady Mendl (Elsie de Wolfe), arbiter of American decorating taste over a generation. Lady Mendl was an incredible person,- self-made in proper American tradition on the one hand, for she had been haunted by the poverty of her childhood, and the years of struggle up from its ugliness,- until she became synonymous with the exotic, exquisite, worshipper at beauty's whrine. Bemelmans draws a portrait in extremes, through apt descriptions, through hilarious anecdote, through surprisingly sympathetic and understanding bits of appreciation. The scene shifts from Hollywood to the home she loved the best in Versailles. One meets in passing a vast roster of famous figures of the international and artistic set. And always one feels Bemelmans, slightly offstage, observing, recording, commenting, illustrated.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 1955

ISBN: 0670717797

Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1955

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