Archive for the 'Bookstore Lore' Category

In Memoriam Robert Long, October 15, 1954 – October 13, 2006



This is the most beautiful day
Of all time: 80 clear degrees,
Summer sunlight jazzing a slope of trees
Like broccoli against the so-blue sea, boats,

Tiny jewels adrift, silent on the horizon.
From my car parked in front of a church
I can watch the most beautiful boy
I have ever seen mow the lawn: he’s blond, maybe 16,

Very tan, skinny, just wearing baggy black shorts,
And all the long young muscles move
Under his warm brown skin
As he shoves the big mower around,

His kid’s angel face placid and purposeful . . .
All the way back along the fast hilly highway
Stands of evergreens and oaks soak up the sun,
The radio blares, I am happy

Thinking of the boy and the sea. Racing
The twist of roads home, the beautiful gargle
Of twin camshafts at 6,000 rpm tells me
That this is all I need: 5 p.m. melon-colored sunlight

Slanting over the silver hood. What greens
In the trees, what a rich cerulean sky, what joy
Kicking it down into third
And screaming around the curve,

Soundgarden on the radio, and the retinal image
Of the grass-mowing kid even better than Tiepolo,
Better than Brahms, reachable, ecstatic, true.
O this is the world I want without end.

— Robert Long, “Blue”


James Salter on the Art and Intimacy of LETTER writing

Memorable Days: The Selected Letters of James Salter and Robert Phelps

August 21, 2010

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Novelist Robert Phelps described novelist James Salter as a “minority of one; a new herb in the cabinet,” and later wrote that Salter’s letters were like gospel to him. Phelps introduced Salter to the works of a dozen writers crucially important to shaping him as a novelist.   Salter says Phelps was one of the most important influences in his life and in whatever he  wrote after they met. The correspondence which began with a fan letter from Phelps to Salter spanned decades. The intimacy of the letters continues.

Allen Planz, January 2, 1937 – March 29, 2010

Allen Planz at Canio’s Books’ 20th Anniversary Celebration, 2000.

POET + Fisherman + FRIEND

SOLSTICE, an excerpt

Once a child built a fortress against the tide.

In darkling sand,

Not to stop it, but to see his craft washed away,

How water touched

To bring all things it touched

To motion,

To flowing

& soon only mounds remain, & nothing within.

.                                          —  Allen Planz, from Creaturely Drift (2008)

Ten Years at Canio’s Books

What’s a bookshop with out great writers near by? Looking back over our first decade at Canio’s Books (founded in 1980 by Canio Pavone), we realize how rich we are in Sag Harbor to be surrounded by so many talented writers steadily at work in their studios.  The fruits of their many labors fill our shelves and have enriched us with many inspiring evening presentations.  Even just a short trip down Memory Lane gives a glimpse of what we’ve enjoyed over the last decade. 

Robin Morgan reading from her memoir Saturday’s Child.  In 2002, Budd Schulberg celebrating his friend John Steinbeck on the centenary of Steinbeck’s birth. Poets Star Black, Bill Knott & Eileen Myles read.  Poets Joy Harjo and  Edward Hirsch read. Photo critic Elizabeth Sussman speaks on the work of Diane Arbus. Journalist Amy Goodman draws our hugest crowd ever.  Farmer/poet  Scott Chaskey publishes This Common Ground; Tom Mathews ‘ Our Father’s War; and Robert Long’s Dekooning’s Bicycle  all published in one year!

Then there was our literary costume party at Halloween 2005. Guests included Anna Akhmatova, Colette, Dante and Simone DeBeauvoir, Edgar Allan Poe, and Femme De Plume among many others. Several ghosts writers hovered. We published our own collection Sag Harbor Is, a Literary Celebration in 2006 with Jim Monaco of Harbor Electronic Publishing. In 2007, poet Grace Schulman read along with Phil Schultz whose book Failure won a Pulitzer.  Our friend Lucette Lagnado published a brilliant memoir The Man in the White Shark Skin Suit.  More recently, poet Mark Doty read from his exquisite memoir Dog Years and  from his National Book Award winning poetry collection Fire to Fire.

2009 will probably be remembered as the year Sag Harbor finally became a novel, in the expert hands of Colson Whitehead. His reading was a tour de force and attracted a huge hometown crowd. Whew, and that’s just a brief sample of what we’ve had the pleasure to present. Looking ahead, we’re happy to announce the creation of a new non-profit Canio’s Cultural Cafe’ an effort to continue  and expand our events series in the years to come We hope you’ll join the effort and be a part of our literary celebrations.

Colson Whitehead, Sag Harbor, July 11, 2009

DSC_1042Colson’s Family at Canio’s

Colson visual aid 1003

Spill over onto the street for Colson, hometown hero. The eponymous crowd turned out in force to celebrate Whitehead’s new novel, a triumph.  Decades past the excruciating teenage years, the author said in Q&A after the reading,  afforded him sufficient distance to write about that one summer when Benji gets his braces off.  The prose read poetically, sparks flying as the author illustrated the syntax of ‘8Os slang.  Long lines of fans waited to get books signed; Colson, patient and gracious through it all.   Welcome Home!

Colson reading 1004


Colson lines to sign 1043


Colson signing many 1028



Colson signing 1061

Amelia’s Adventures in the Kitchen

Wednesday visitors to the shop will have made the acquaintance of artist and staffer Amelia Garretson-Persans whose handmade fine art books are unique features of our collection.  Ever industrious and creative, Amelia took home a copy of Secrets of Jesuit Breadmaking by Brother Curry.  Just a few days later she shared some of her experiences.  Baking is only one of Amelia’s many talents.  Contact the shop to order copies of the book.

3/2/09 Challah

Though challah is traditionally a Jewish bread, Brother Rick Curry justifies its presence in his Christian cookbook by explaining that Father Toby Myer, who I have to thank for this recipe, is a Jewish convert.  With that contentious issue settled, I will proceed.

Challah is the first type of bread I ever made, even before I was initiated into the mystic rites of Jesuit breadmaking.  If it turns out it is a terrific crowd-pleaser and a tremendous ego-booster.  With its egg wash and sesame/poppy seed coating it emerges from the oven triumphantly.

When a bread doesn’t turn out, as was the case with my second and third attempts, it can easily be misconstrued as a personal insult to your character and integrity.  This is perhaps the wrong way to approach baking, but when you are confronted with a squat, dead, little loaf after four h ours of labor and anticipation, it can be devastating.

Incredibly though, this tends to happen less and less with the more practice and research you do.  Brother Rick Curry clued me into the problem of starting your yeast in a cold bowl.  As I have been doing most of my baking this winter in a poorly winterized summer bungalow, I took his advice to heart and began heating my ceramic bowl in hot water before beginning.  So far, no more flops…

This challah turned out quite well, despite my persistently spazzy braiding.  I needed a diagram for the first four or five challahs I made, and when I finally decided to lose this crutch, I ended up with a wonky looking bread.  It tasted good, but while it lasted, it functioned as a reminder of my poor visual memory.  Fortunately, good challah only lasts about a day and half.

3/19/09 Brother Andrew’s Pumpernickel Bread

This bread has some weird stuff in it!  I always thought pumpernickel bread was made with pumpernickel flour, but it doesn’t seem to be the case.  I’ve always had a nebulous idea of what pumpernickel was to begin with, and frankly I still do.

The real wild cards in this bread are the one and half tablespoons of cocoa powder and two tablespoons of instant coffee granules, which I ordinarily wouldn’t allow in my home, if not for its hidden location in the back of the baking shelf.

The bread is cooked at a high temperature, mostly for the function of darkening the crust I think.  The result is a sweet, smoky flavor, much akin to store-bought pumpernickel bread…  It makes excellent toast, particularly the type of toast that accompanies a bowl of soup.

3/29/09 Sister Courtney’s Buttermilk Bread

While skimming through my Jesuit Breadmaking book, in a desperate attempt to use up the quickly turning buttermilk, I discover that Brother Rick Curry only has one arm!  Perhaps because I’m not wild about book covers that feature the author in all his or her smiling splendor, I never looked very carefully at it.  In the introduction Brother Curry describes the difficult task of cutting the fifty pound bricks of butter received at the monastery into useable chunks.  He makes  a fleeting remark about how much more difficult this is with only one arm.  No kidding!  I quickly flip back to the cover and am very surprised to see that though his right shoulder is obscured in shadow, there is clearly no arm attached to it.   And I thought kneading was a workout with two arms!

Anyway, Sister Courtney’s bread is a pretty simple bread to make, with virtually no curveballs thrown in.  It makes a sweet, slightly moist loaf, which makes excellent breakfast toast, particularly when it’s smothered in butter and honey.

It Takes a Village

What makes a good bookstore? An interesting collection of books, hand-selected by knowledgeable and friendly staff. A welcoming, comfortable space, with maybe a bit of history built in, a sense of rootedness in a place. Yes, all these elements comprise Canio’s Books. Then factor in our eclectic series of weekend events, writers, poets, musicians and artists sharing their talents with us. But who is this “us”? It’s you, dear reader and all your friends and neighbors who care about sustaining a place for art, culture and literature to thrive. Yes, it takes a village to make a bookshop. See Peter Applebome’s essay in the Sunday, New York Times, “Who Killed This Bookstore? There Are Lots of Suspects” about the demise of a 37-year-old establishment, Second Story Book Shop in Chappaqua, New York. We’ve read too often about the demise of this or that beloved bookshop. Rents go up. Ugly chain stores move in. Customers scrounge for bargains on line, then bemoan the loss of their neighborhood shop, the loss of community. And realize, too late, that they, we, are part of the community we help create or abandon. Here is another wake-up call.
Be a part of the bookshop you want to see in your community. In our case, we’re creating a direct route for community involvement in Canio’s Books. We have formed a non-profit entity, Canio’s Cultural Cafe, Ltd. to make it possible for us to continue to develop new programs at the bookshop and at other locations. We hope to make it easy for our supporters to become part of sustaining the cultural capital of our unique community. Your tax deductible contribution to Canio’s Culture Cafe will help underwrite new workshops, seminars and other events of literary, educational and cultural interest. Please consider becoming a regular patron of Canio’s Cultural Cafe with a donation today. And meanwhile, stop in for something delicious to read.

What is a book?

A book is not a flower press.
A book is not a coaster.
A book is not a foot stool.
Nor a flotation device. Although sometimes.
A book is not a hat in the rain.
That’s what newspapers are for, if you can find one.
A book is not an electronic object.
A book is not your best friend.
Though you may sleep with a book, do not write on its skin.
Take your book to lunch, but do not share your spaghetti with a book.
Do not banish a book to the basement,
Nor hide onein an attic. Read a book  in broad daylight.
Take one to the beach, but not for a swim.

Remember your first book? A love like no other.

Calla Lily

The huge calla lily plant in our front window is again and remarkably in bloom. It’s Valentine’s Day which is sweet, but it’s also the dead middle of cold February. The shop window’s climate is one of extremes: intensely strong morning sun, still thin this time of year, then longer unheated drafty nights. A beautiful yet poisonous plant native to southern Africa, the one Diego Rivera painted in his Flower Vendor, the calla lily thrives, surprisingly, here on the eastern end of Long Island. The plant was a gift to us four years ago in celebration of our anniversary mid-March given on the first day of spring in full bloom. Perhaps this recent inflorescence proves what Katherine Hepburn uttered in Stage Door (1937): the calla lily is in bloom again; such a strange flower. She carried it on her wedding day and she’ll lay here to remember the dead. The flower of love and death, then. A heavy note for the day, yet the lily’s rich white throat glows like a small moon. We love the ones we’re with, and remember the loves we’ve lost. Our reading tonight at which poet couples read some of their favorite love poems celebrated love’s many facets, its triumphs and challenges. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Lucky Solstice

You could say the luck began back around Thanksgiving time. Mark Doty had been announced the winner of the National Book Award for his poetry collection Fire to Fire. We’d already scheduled a reading from his memoir Dog Years. How fortuitous now that our audience could congratulate him on this great honor. When the poet read from his memoir, he read each word with the breath and sound of poetry.   Just now an old golden lab and a young man are walking through the light snowfall on upper Main Street, Sag Harbor.  A sign of Beau, perhaps? or just another daily ritual of caring this dark afternoon?  Mark spent time with each question from the audience, answered each generously, encouragingly, the poet teacher sharing his gifts. Here, he seemed to say, you try…

Some weeks later, storyteller and novelist Gioia Timpanelli lit the candles for Santa Lucia on her feast day, December 13.  The patron saint of Siracusa offered her eyes to the world. “Here,” she might have said, “take them, and see.”  Gioia’s new novel What Makes a Child Lucky takes place in Sicily, in a time of great hunger, or as the introduction suggests: “anyplace at anytime.”  Gioia spun out the story as we sat rapt in its charms.  Lucky us, we were able to make an audio recording thanks again to Tony Ernst at WPKN independent radio.  Check the link for this and other special programs:

Books bring light to our lives. .. Bright Solstice to all!

Canio’s Books is located at 290 Main Street, Sag Harbor, NY 11963, 631.725.4926. Call or email us, 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!