Archive for the 'Bookstore Lore' Category



Canio’s in the New York Times

If you haven’t seen this yet, please read:

Canio's in the New York Times

Canio’s in the New York Times

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/23/nyregion/fighting-to-preserve-sag-harbors-literary-flavor.html?ref=nyregionspecial&_r=0

Be sure to stop in at Canio’s over the winter and help us “keep Sag Harbor’s literary light glowing!”

He’s Back! Big white whale sighting at Canio’s

In celebration of our 35th year, we’re planning a special marathon reading of Melville’s Moby Dick.
Canio began the tradition many years ago and due to popular demand, we’re bringing it back. Voices famous and unknown have participated over the years, sometimes reading, or listening in their p.j.s during the wee hours. Plans are now underway for a whale of a celebration, a special anniversary reading with surprises in store, special give-aways and more; contact the shop to be part of this historic event!

Mike’s Last Day

We bid a fond farewell to our dear UPS delivery man, Mr. Mike. Always the professional, Mike had been hefting heavy boxes of books through Canio’s doors for well over 15 years, and we considered him part of the Canio’s team. Dressed in company brown, Mike’s  businesslike demeanor was always pleasant, always courteous. And once in a while, we could get him to crack a smile and chuckle over some silly quip or other.

We wonder just how many pounds of packages he must have delivered during his many long years with the company. The burden didn’t seem to weigh him down, or at least, he didn’t let it show.

Mr. Efficiency would be a fitting nickname for Mike. We could practically set our watches to the sound of his truck brakes as the hulking van pulled up at our curb. That sound would be music to our ears as customers eagerly awaited special orders, especially during  busy summer months and the hectic  holiday season. And on cold, quiet winter afternoons, that sound and Mike’s brief visit were always a welcome part of the day.

In a week or so, another delivery man will be assigned to what we’ve learned is a coveted route. “Everyone here is so nice,” said one temporary delivery guy. Well, we hope so. And we wish “our” Mike (all the shops on Main Street want to claim him their “own”) very well in his new position. He’ll be inside UPS headquarters rather than behind the wheel of the big brown behemoth, warm inside when it’s cold out; dry when it’s lashing; far from  the crazy summer traffic jams, and we hope, comfortable in the good company of his colleagues. Congratulations and all best wishes to #1 Mike!

Steinbeck Spirit in Sag Harbor

An afternoon of spring cleaning on a day that actually feels like the season, yielded a surprise. A charming copy of John Steinbeck’s The Red Pony surfaced like a fragile  crocus finally breaking ground. This limited edition volume, published in 1937 by Covici Friede Publishers , shows signs of age and wear, but also bears the tiny sticker from New York’s famed Holliday Bookshop. A beloved shop that specialized in British and American literary works, Holliday became an institution over its 30-plus years in business.

Later this month we welcome Steinbeck scholar Susan Shillinglaw back to Sag Harbor. She’ll speak on Saturday, April 26 at 5 p.m. as we celebrate the 75th anniversary of the publication of The Grapes of Wrath. Our copy of The Red Pony  is signed by Steinbeck and dedicated to his first wife Carol, (see also Shillinglaw’s Carol and John Steinbeck: Portrait of a Marriage).

The osprey are back now reminding us of Steinbeck’s love/hate relationship with these mighty raptors. Mostly love.  See his humorous essay “My War With the Osprey” reprinted in our Sag Harbor Is: a Literary Celebration.  His “war” turns out to be a jousting match between two clever species, one human, one avian. Guess who wins?

I field a call from a friend considering entering the book business. What advice do I have? Well, considering it’s the first of the month,  April Fool’s Day in fact, and our  rent’s due, I advise extreme caution.  Yet the appearance of The Red Pony feels hopeful. Our copy’s for sale. It’s number 535 of 699, signed and printed on handmade paper. What’s it worth to you?

Big Community Hug

Canio's Cash Mob by SzokaThanks to all cash-mobbers who jammed into Canio’s last Saturday in a huge show of support for our efforts to be your community bookshop. It was a record-breaking day at the shop thanks to friends Bobbi, Eric, April, Eric and many others who contacted friends and spread the word and showed up to give us what felt like a great big hug.
We put a lot of energy into creating an interesting, thought-provoking shop filled with books worth reading, and artists and writers worth meeting. We felt affirmed in our efforts this past Saturday, when the community responded with a resounding, “Yes!” Sag Harbor’s long literary legacy continues!
And we say, “Thank you!” to all who participated. And please do come again. Canio’s is Canio’s because of this wonderful community we all live in and love, and because of people like you.

Steinbeck Slept Here!

Today, February 27,  is John Steinbeck’s birthday as noted, thoughtfully, but incompletely by Garrison Keillor on The Writer’s Almanac. (http://app.info.americanpublicmediagroup.org/e/es?s=1715082578&e=9333&elq=daf1cddcd35f43fa88e5fe39e05aa6ae)

We must add that Steinbeck lived, worked, fished, drank and generally had a good time here in Sag Harbor on the East End of Long Island. Some have called ours a “charming fishing village” not dissimilar to Steinbeck’s beloved Monterey Bay. Steinbeck spent the last decade of his life here, driving out from New York when his works were performed on Broadway stages.

We see a steady stream of  Steinbeck fans on pilgrimage who stop in to ask about where he lived — The writer’s home is now a private residence overlooking Sag Harbor Cove.  Our literary walking tours always wind up there, a respectful distance from the place he wrote The Winter of Our Discontent. It’s said he based several characters on Sag Harbor locals. Steinbeck’s American road book, Travels with Charley begins here in the wind-churned cove, just as Hurricane Donna blows through:”Under the big oak trees of my place at Sag Harbor sat Rocinante…”

John found pals among the locals, fishing buddies and drinking buddies in the days of the notorious Black Buoy bar when Sag Harbor was a place God-fearing mothers forbade their kids from venturing to. But local folks just let Steinbeck be Steinbeck, allowed him his privacy.  In a show of affection for what was then a proudly blue-collar town, Steinbeck helped create our Whalers festival, a giant street parade and rowdy weekend party featuring boat races that once brought sailors and boozers from far and near. The festival, now toned down as Sag Harbor has gone upscale,  is celebrated as HarborFest,  in early September when the crowds have dissipated, but when the weather’s still fine.

Steinbeck conducted his war with the ospreys here, as described in a humorous piece we included in our Sag Harbor Is: A Literary Celebration.  At the centenary of his birth, we hosted a Steinbeck celebration with an exhibit of photographs from the family collection and a stirring tribute by Steinbeck’s friend, the late Budd Schulberg. There’s a beautiful bronze bust of the writer in our beloved John Jermain Library, a tribute to the village’s claim on the Nobel Prize winner.

All this to say, Steinbeck once slept here! He lived here, played here, wrote here. Happy Birthday, John Steinbeck. Sag Harbor salutes you!

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.

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 Literary Costume Party – Celebrating our 30th Anniversary

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Our Favorite Cast of Characters

Thanks to all in the community who turned on their creativity and turned out to celebrate Canio’s Books’ 30th anniversary at our literary costume party, October 30. It was great evening spent with such witty friends:

Daisy Buchanan and Jay Gatsby, and their friend Maggie, a ghostly-faced Girl of the Streets got the party off to a great start. Alice B. Toklas, complete with “pot brownie” prop stopped in,  and Picasso showed up too. All the while,  a tall dark Death waited at the door. Undeterred,  Charlotte’s Web; Tinker Belle and Peter Pan floated in…and a most distinguished red-masked man had us all guessing. A beautiful Elizabeth Barrett Browning character appeared in the full bloom of love; and later, the poet Paul Oppenheimer, in a period tweed jacket, warned us: “The Battle is to Rescue Life from Abstraction.”  Rob surprised us all bursting in with a hearty  “Bon Appetite”  and wearing a floral apron and brandishing a rolling pin. Julia Child would have been proud. Who knew Leo Tolstoy was a bee-keeper! Our party was not only fun, it was educational!.

A dashing F. Scott Fitzgerald attended wearing an elegant tux, and an earthy Patti Smith, with signature black ribbon at her neck rocked the house. Sherlock Holmes spied on the crowd and Anna Karenina read plaintively.    Our host, one adorable Cat in the Hat kept the party moving.   And wherever there are writers, there’s bound to be at least one Run-on Sentence. This one counted Molly Bloom’s soliloquy at somewhere over 11 thousands words sans punctuation.

It would have been impossible to pick one winner, best costume, when so many were so creative ! Thanks to all  for your enthusiasm and your generosity. Donations to Canio’s Cultural Cafe will help keep the literary party going!


Canio’s Books is located at 290 Main Street, Sag Harbor, NY 11963, 63.725.4926. 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!

Vanishing Landscapes