Archive for the 'Bookselling in the 21st century' Category



Canio’s Lunches With The Library

Harry Belafonte was so impressed with Coal River, an expose of mountaintop mining in West Virginia, that the celebrated performer and civil rights activist asked long-time Vanity Fair contributing editor and author Michael Shnayerson to work with him on his autobiography.   Belafonte’s autobiography: My Song: A Memoir of Art, Race, and Defiance recounts stories of  Harry’s early years, his activism and rise to fame.  Shnayerson, of Bridgehampton relied on interviews rather than documents to compose the book. “He had so many stories in his heard,” said the reporter, featured guest along with writer Kati Marton, at the recent literary luncheon hosted by the Friends of the Jermain Library. Belafonte’s involvement with the civil rights movement, and his friendship with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. almost cost him his career. But Belafonte’s rise from his beginnings as a janitor to performing at the Inauguration of Pres. Kennedy to international aide work and more evince a life of tenacity, dedication and influence. Shnayerson is currently at work on a book about New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo.

“Patience, perseverance and focus.” That’s how Kati Marton described the qualities her late husband Richard Holbrooke brought to both his diplomatic career and his personal life. In her memoir Paris, A Love Story, the former NPR and ABC News correspondent describes her marriage to Ambassador Holbrooke, and before him to Peter Jennings. But Paris is at the core of her story, the city of lovers that helped her move on from loss and grief. Based on journals and bundles of letters saved, the book, Marton said, is not solely her story, but “a human story,” and one that ends on a poignant but hopeful note. Marton, author of eight books including Enemies of the People: My Family’s Journey to America,  is ready to begin a new chapter of her life.

Orion at Canio’s

On the first day of autumn we celebrated the 30th anniversary of Orion magazine. This fine publication combines exceptional essays, stories and articles about our human relationship with nature. Each issue features art, photography and poetry. At our celebratory event, were heard from Carl Safina, author of Song for the Blue Ocean and The View From Lazy Point. Safina is a contributor to Orion. Local environmentalists read, as did organic farmer and poet Scoot Chaskey and Megan Chaskey a musician and yoga teacher. Readers chose an essay from Orion’s anniversary publication, Thirty-Year Plan: Thirty Writers on What We Need to Build a Better Future. Responses to that question showed an impressive range of vision by a host of the magazine’s contributors.
We’re so impressed with the quality of writing and image in the magazine that we’ve committed to carrying Orion each month. The November/December issue is just out. Its striking cover image, small white bones arranged in a mandala on a black ground is dramatically prescient. Here on the mid-Atlantic coast, we’re still picking up the pieces in the wake of superstorm Sandy. Trebbe Johnson’s essay on gazing at damaged places has special resonance for us as we observe the changes to our coastline, the loss of life, damaged property. Yet, the essay and the magazine itself is hope filled. Life does continue through destruction. Poetry by Pattiann Rogers, Tony Hoagland and others, and photographs by Ami Vitale make this issue one to savor. Pick up your copy, or give one as a gift to the environmentalist on your list. Let’s see Orion through another 30 years!

Post Sandy: We are open and we are grateful

We are very grateful for having weathered the storm safely. Canio’s Books is open for business during our usual hours. Power was restored to Main Street at 3 p.m. Our thoughts and prayers are with those still in need. Stop by to chat, get a great book and enjoy some Halloween treats.

Busmen’s Holiday

We can’t visit a new city without stopping in its bookstores. Who wouldn’t want to, even, or especially, while on vacation? We walked into River Run Books in Portsmouth, New Hampshire where we’d been before albeit in its different locations. Portsmouth is an interesting, historic and lively place, and River Run is a great shop full of contemporary and classic titles, local interest books, second-hand sale books, gifts and a new publishing sideline. While wandering the well-stocked tables and chatting with knowledgeable shop owner Tom, we learned that the next night Salman Rushdie would speak at The Music Hall as part of their Writers on a New England stage series.  Rushdie’s new memoir Joseph Anton describes his harrowing experience during the fatwa. It’s also about his school years, his marriages, his life as a writer, the intrigues of the publishing world.

Tom saw to our tickets, and to our surprise, even invited us to the V.I.P. reception backstage after the presentation.The historic theatre that dates from 1878 was packed. Over 750 people filled the hall to hear Rushdie read from Joseph Anton and converse with a New Hampshire public radio journalist. You had the feeling the man, the writer was coming back into his own, stepping out from behind a dark curtain of years lived in secrecy, and he emerged confidently as the formidable artist he is. After the talk, some one hundred v.i.p.s crowded into the reception area and nibbled delectable goodies and sipped delicious drinks. When we presented our books to by signed by the author, Rushdie said he remembered Canio’s. He’d been there several times having visited Kurt Vonnegut who’d lived in Sagaponack. Some twenty-plus years have elapsed since then, and unimaginable challenges have been endured. But Rushdie has shaken free those dark years having written this fascinating account — a testament to the strength of his own character. Of course, we invited him to visit Canio’s again. Welcome back, Salman Rushdie!

Green thumbs up for American Grown

It could be because we’re grandchildren of immigrants and fondly remember our grandparents’ bountiful backyard vegetable gardens. It could be because we support and advocate for community gardens. This year we’ve created our own front yard raised-bed garden following Mel Bartholomew’s Square Foot Gardening methods.  Or it could be because First Lady Michelle Obama’s first book, American Grown: The Story of the White House Kitchen Garden and Gardens Across America is bursting with beautifully photographed fresh produce just plucked from the South Lawn. But American Grown is our  current favorite summer read for more reasons than this. It’s about kids and families enjoying healthy food; it’s about the pleasures of planting and caring for the Earth. It includes interesting history, and hope-filled stories about community gardens across the country.  Not since Eleanor Roosevelt’s WWII victory garden has food been grown on the White House lawn. Two Thomas Jefferson beds have been planted with seeds collected from his gardens at Monticello.   An office building in Texas agreed to create container gardens out on the hot concrete of Houston. Workers on each floor assume responsibility for one container. They’ve got squash and okra and sweet potatoes and tomatoes thriving. Mostly, American Grown shows us how one  supremely intelligent and insightful First Lady can share her enthusiasm about vegetables and change a nation one backyard at a time.

Quit smoking this New Year & read Bukowski!

Sometimes books and smoking just seem intertwinted. Take Bukowski’s opus for example. Please! Thanks to a recent acquisition, we have a suitably reeking collection of Bukowski titles from a chain-smokingly loyal reader. From You Get So Alone, to The Last Night of the Earth Poems, to What Matters Most Is How You Walk Through Fire and more. To read these books is to inhale enough secondary smoke to satisfy even the most needy cravings. While supplies last! So if you’ve determined to give up nicotine this New Year, you can still get a quick fix and enjoy the best of Bukowski from the collection of a bona fide night-shift cab-driving Bukowski fan. Who else? Call now for price and availabilty.

After 30 years , a Face Lift

Thanks to the exacting care and attention paid it by artist Pat Moran, our iconic Canio’s Books shop sign has been given new life. This past fall when the weather was fine, Pat would climb a ladder and set to work on the 10 by 3-foot swinging shingle that has come to symbolize literary Sag Harbor. Its signature marine blue background is now brightened to match the blue of sun-saturated bay waters nearby. Pat worked painstakingly to first clean and protect the wood surface, then went in with matching colors and highlights to accentuate our Old English lettering. Our beloved logo, first created by artist Nohra Barros, the Pagliacci clown is once again beating his drum atop a pile of books. As we enter a new century of bookselling with much uncertainty about the future, we’re delighted to see our sign spruced up and ready for whatever weather is headed our way. And we’re eternally grateful to Pat Moran for helping us look our best.
As a complement to our newly restored sign, we’re flying a brand-new authentic Earth Flag. Designed by John McConnell, the man who also gave us Earth Day, the Earth flag helps raise consciousness about our precious planetary home. The Earth flag not only symbolizes our love of and reverence for planet Earth, it is truly beautiful. To gaze upon this image, is to experience awe. Come see our new sign, our new flag and browse our special selection of literary books on nature, spirituality, the environment and more.

How do you gift wrap a download?

When I recently heard Ray Bradbury’s comment that a Kindle smells like burning plastic (see NPR) I thought of the transience of this digital media. Ours is the age of impermanence, to say nothing of its toxicity. Some months ago we got a call from someone who sounded familiar. A frequent customer, he had found a book on the street in New York inscribed by a poet from Sag Harbor. Did we happen to know this man? Yes, we did. Vince had been a loyal customer before moving into the city. A published poet, essayist and Whitman scholar, he gave several readings, led an in-depth poetry workshop and championed John Ciardi’s seminal works. The caller had picked up Vince’s copy of Cellini’s autobiography. A note scribbled in the flyleaf indicated that Vince’s ancestors came from the same part of Italy as did the caller’s. Though he made his living as an accountant, the caller also wrote poetry. He said he felt as if he’d found a long lost family member he never knew. All this from a few notes marked in a book, and picked up by a passing stranger one afternoon. The caller had prepared a letter including several poems, some he’d written in honor of his grandfather whose passport photograph he’d copied onto the page. All this, gentle reader, to say our books are our passports into that boarder-less country, the territory of our shared human experience. They are the currency of our community.

Enduring Irene with Lucette

Lucky for us we had a pre-publication book launch with award-winning writer Lucette Lagnado the weekend before the storm hit Sag Harbor. Her lucid new memoir The Arrogant Years has just been released. During five long days without electrical power at home, we read Arrogant Years feverishly by the flickering light of an oil lamp. The book charts the course of Lucette’s mother’s early hardships as a young girl in Cairo. Despite many obstacles, Edith is one day given the key to the pasha’s library, something like being handed the key to heaven for one who so loves books and for whom books were a literal means of sustenance.
Lagnado’s first memoir, the riveting Man in the White Sharkskin Suit: A Jewish Family’s Exodus from Old Cairo to the New World, has been a Canio’s bestseller since its release in 2007. And now Arrogant Years: One’s Girl’s Search for Her Lost Youth, from Cairo to Brooklyn, earns its place close to our heart. Written with the drive of an experienced investigative reporter, one whose love of literature shapes every chapter, Lagnado’s Arrogant Years is a courageous look at the struggles both she and her mother faced in navigating a world often treacherous for two particularly gifted women. We have signed copies of both memoirs by Lucette Lagnado and highly recommend them both. Those long days without power would have been much bleaker if it weren’t for Arrogant Years to pull us through.

Everything Beautiful…Begins Here!

When you begin with influences like Proust, Joyce, William Maxwell and Anne Michaels, you understand the highly literary, moody, imaginative and slightly melancholy world created in Simon Van Booy’s new novel, Everything Beautiful Happened After. Simon spoke at the shop recently about his literary influences and read from his new work finding just the right accents for George, the linguist from Kentucky, and Henry, the British archaeologist. The delicate web woven around these characters and the lovely Rebecca, a painter from Paris, is strung with willowy sentences that span emotional valleys like a lifeline. The setting is one summer in Athens that marks these characters for life. The novel feels like the natural progression from Van Booy’s previous story collections, Love Begins in Winter and The Secret Lives of People in Love. It’s been our pleasure as booksellers to observe such a fine young writer develop his unique voice with such grace, sensitivity and style.

Were you stuck in summer traffic and missed the event? Despair not. A few signed copies are still available. Stay tuned for an upcoming workshop with Simon at Canio’s; see  http://www.caniosbooks.com


Canio’s Books is located at 290 Main Street, Sag Harbor, NY 11963, 631.725.4926. Call or email us, caniosbooks@verizon.net. While we love you to SEE you, you can also order new titles at our online storefront or some of our second hand inventory HERE. Thanks for visiting!