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The Oysters of Locmariaquer Paperback – May, 1992


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 203 pages
  • Publisher: Perennial; Reprint edition (May 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060974885
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060974886
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.3 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,269,465 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

The Oysters of Locmariaquer is all of a piece, the work of a wanderer, of an insatiably curious mind on the loose.-- -- The New York Times Book Review

What an elegant book this is, starting with that most elegant of creatures, the Belon oyster....[Clark's] fantastic blending of science and art, history and journalism, brings the appetite back for life and literature both. -- Los Angeles Times Book Review, Susan Salter Reynolds, 27 December 1998

[Eleanor Clark] has made a book in which the novelist's gift of identification has merged with the essayist's delight in selection of detail, the traveller's roots and relationships. -- The New Republic

[The Oysters of Locmariaquer] belongs to a class of one....It calls to mind a quickly braided mulitcolored rope in which strands enmesh and enfold and enhance one another in perpetual reappearance. Much wit and patience and all the sense we have went into making this book. -- New York Review of Books --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Eleanor Clark (1913–1996) was also the author of two other works of nonfiction, Rome and a Villa and Eyes, Etc., and the novels The Bitter Box, Baldur's Gate, and Camping Out. She was married to Robert Penn Warren.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Gussie Fink-Nottle on December 30, 2004
Format: Paperback
The opening line of this book is:
"WHAT YOU NOTICE in the month of May is the tiles, like roof tiles but white, stacked by thousands at one point after another along the shore."

The last line on page 203 is:
"BENEFICIENT Oyster, good to taste, good for the stomach and the soul, grant us the blessing of your further mystery."

In between these 200 pages concerning oysters, Eleanor Clark wrote a definitive classic on the amalgamation of geography, human history, ecology, and commerce. One reads much of the mystery or the character of this mollusk at this Breton coast. It expresses itself through the human being just as it does through its own.

These oysters of Locmariaquer can be appreciated or thought of in two ways. How they are farmed in this northwestern Breton Coast can be thought of as being incidental. The important thing, some argues, this is a place of scenary, good oyster eating, and tourism. Or one can see with an understanding eye, as the author wants the reader to see, at the landscape. This Locmariaquer landscape, with the oysters, is repleted with the rich voice of its ancestors, myths, history, and human foibles.

Equipped with this behind the scene knowledge, the mystery of the Locmariquer mollusk is revealed. Now we can trippingly roll off our tongue why these Breton oysters are dear to the gourmet. Put on a few more dozens of these oysters on the barbie, won't you? No, not on the doll.

*Note: This book was published in 1964. In the 1970s, some if not all of the oyster varieties named in the book had been devastated by parasites. Today, the region is cultivating the hardier Japanese oyster, the Japanese naissain (the Gigas) variety, to sustain the industry and a way of life.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Beth Quinn Barnard on June 21, 2010
Format: Paperback
An odd but charming little book which won the National Book Award in 1965. Clark's book is an elegy for the Belon oyster of Brittany, facing extinction along with traditional lifeway of the rural, impoverished Bretons who once nurtured the prized delicacy. Part travelogue and part treatise on the oyster, Clark's book in no way resembles similar works being penned today. There is little reportage -- no interviews with experts, no marshaling of facts and figures, no reader-friendly overviews. Readers will indeed learn much about oysters and the Bretons who raise them but in a discursive ramble that introduces a character here and a topic there, moving past both to another concern before circling back now and again to revisit people and topics as the need arises. For some readers, the two-steps-forward, one-step-back approach will feel haphazard and disorganized while others will enjoy the sense of conversation with a witty and well-informed friend. Either way, a must read for oyster lovers.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By nick robertson on July 12, 2000
Format: Paperback
About 25 years ago I stumbled upon Eleanor Clark's history of the oyster beds in Normandy, or her memoir of living near the oyster beds. It's been a long time, but it was simply the best combination of food writing, history, travel writing and poetry that I ever read (yes, I'm reviewing a book that I read 25 years ago, but it stayed with me). My sister and her family are going to be living in Normandy, so I have to buy it for them, and reread it myself. It's unique; it makes every other book about travel and food and "our life in ...." seem pallid.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By John P. Jones III TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 5, 2008
Format: Paperback
which I with sword will open." Ms. Clark corrects our collective thinking on the most famous oyster metaphor in literature, indicating it has nothing to do with a pearl, or as she delightfully says, "but we would rather think not." Ms. Clark dazzles the reader, certainly this one, with her remarkable erudition, which she has focused on the raising of one seemingly simple sea creature, on the south coast of Brittany in France. Ecology, biology, sociology, history, zoology, literature are some of the intellectual areas that are drawn upon to create this one-of-a-kind book that made Locmariaquer an essential destination. But so much has changed, been lost, and yes, even improved since Ms Clark wrote her book at the end of the `50's, long before the coming of the TGV, and before the death of many of the species that she writes about. It was also long before the era of mass tourism.

This area of Brittany has long been poor, noted for two things: the baby oysters, and the large prehistoric megaliths at Carnac. The author describes the Parisian gourmet's excitement with the arrival of the season's latest harvest, carefully listing the classifications and prices, but also contrasts this seemingly ephemeral interest with the harsh reality of producing this crop with an image hard to forget: an 18 year old girl wanted out - drank a bottle of muriatic acid, it took her half the afternoon to die, and "they had heard her screaming way over at Saint-Pierre."

In chapter five Ms. Clark covers the oysters significance during the period of the Second Empire, giving the reader delightful dollops of history, and sociological insight from that period. Many of the greats from this period, as well as the lesser known make their appearances.
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