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

THE ESSENTIAL OYSTER

A SALTY APPRECIATION OF TASTE AND TEMPTATION

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 26, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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NUTCRACKER

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 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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IN MY PLACE

From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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