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What I'm Giving | December 5, 2013 1 comment
In this special series, we asked writers we admire to share a book they're giving to their friends and family this holiday season. Check back daily... Continue »
Mark KurlanskyDescribe your latest project.
The Big Oyster is the story of a city. Though no one thinks of it this way, New York city was built on the site of a natural wonder, the estuary of the Hudson river. The fact that all the waters surrounding all five boroughs and the other islands such as Ellis, Liberty, and Governor's were all rich in natural oyster beds is only one example of the tremendous riches of the area. When Europeans first came to the area they found an indigenous culture enjoying oysters. The Europeans did the same and throughout New York history oysters played an important role in commerce and culture. The city developed unique styles of oyster eateries and oyster markets including the floating markets on the rivers. Everyone who visited New York talked about the oysters. Dickens, Gogol, José Martí, and Willa Cather were among the many writers who visited and then wrote about the oysters and oyster culture. The only problem was the notion that garbage and sewage could be disposed of by putting it out of sight. Out of sight was in the water, and few thought of what this meant to the oysters, not to mention the fish. In 1927 the last oyster bed was closed by health authorities and New Yorkers have been struggling to get them back ever since.
The Big Oyster through oysters tells the story of the growth and development of New York City. It has the peculiar distinction of being a book about both food and raw sewage disposal, a dubious combination. It tells much about the development of the city its commerce, markets, restaurants, eating habits and questions the way in which cities are developed. And there are historic New York oyster recipes.
If someone were to write your biography, what would be the title and subtitle?
What fictional character would you like to date, and why?
What section of the newspaper do you read first?
Describe the best breakfast of your life.
Why do you write?
Share an interesting experience you've had with one of your readers.
Aside from other writers, name some artists from whom you draw inspiration and talk a little about their work.