I finally finished this book. It took way too long, I had to force myself to not give up. I love nonfiction books filled with historical, random facts, and after having lived in New York I am even more of a lover of New York City history than an average reader. I thought this book would have the perfect blend of both. Alas, I should have remembered: while I did love Mr. Kurlansky's Cod, I did not finish and eventually gave away Salt, after getting about 1/3 of the way through. The Big Oyster should have been a magazine article. A nice, long, New Yorker-style article, but an article nonetheless.
For long bits it is painfully obvious that Mr. Kurlansky is fleshing out the story, going for length, not pertinence. How many old oyster recipes really need to be reprinted in full? Two dozen? More? The history parts were very interesting and moved along at a good clip, but the gastronomy was tiring. I like reading books about food. But there is no single food item that one can write on and on and on about without running well out of things to say. There just isn't.
Even if you're an oyster lover, I would be hard-pressed to recommend this book enthusiastically. As a non-oyster lover, I wish I had skipped it.
I bought this book as a bargain book at a B&N. Oddly, it is the British edition.