Archive for the 'Fiction' Category

Join Canio’s Book Groups!

You’ve asked and we’re responding with plans for two book discussions this fall/winter. After the outpouring of interest in the Moby Dick Marathon this June, some have wondered, what about the women? We think Sena Jeter Naslund’s Ahab’s Wife is the perfect response. Taking off from a passing reference in Melville’s Moby-Dick, Naslund spins an engrossing epic of the adventures of one feisty woman. “Captain Ahab was neither my first husband nor my last,” she says in the book’s opening line. Hold fast to the ropes, dear readers, you’re in for one unforgettable Nantucket sleigh ride.

We’ve also heard the cry for “more Steinbeck!” So we’re starting with the novel he wrote while living in Sag Harbor. Set in the fictional New Baytown and inspired by Sag Harbor, Winter of Our Discontent explores the moral crisis faced by one Ethan Hawley, son of Pilgrim Fathers and whaling captains, now a  clerk at the town’s grocery store (think Schiavoni’s).

Each group will be led by a guest facilitator. Sign up for the groups and receive a discount on purchase of the books.

Literature Amid the Cypress and Eucalyptus

Some twenty of us carpooled down to Point Reyes National Seashore early one chilly fog-thick afternoon. We walked down (and then slowly up) some 300 steps to the lighthouse following our intrepid guide, marine biologist Sarah Allen, author of Marine Mammals of the Pacific Coast.She trained her scope on a flock of shore birds invisible to the naked eye. Soon , someone spotted a whale blow, the foamy exhalation of this giant majestic creature. We gasped and rushed to the best vantage point. Why does a group of otherwise fairly serious adults seem to melt at the sight of whales? Is some basic creaturely connection at work?

Are the boundaries between humans, “animals,” “nature” really boundaries at all? What are our  responsibilities to our fellow creatures, to our island home? These and other questions were discussed during a lively, colorful, musical, literary and delicious conference we attended: Geography of Hope 2015. Some of our all-time favorite writers on women and the environment gave presentations: Susan Griffin, author of the groundbreaking work: Woman and Nature: The Roaring Inside Her which birthed the eco-feminist movement; Rebecca Solnit whose recent bestseller The Faraway Nearby gained much critical acclaim; Kathleen Dean Moore, co-chair of the conference, whose Moral Ground: Ethical Action for the Planet is a must read; and Gretel Ehrlich whose stunning Solace of Open Spaces is just one of some 14 powerful works. Award-winning poet/activists Brenda Hillman and Robert Hass read from their moving, engaged and lyrical works.

We were introduced to writers we want to read: Ann Pancake, whose novel Strange As This Weather Has Been describes a West Virginia family devastated by mountain-top removal. Her new collection of stories, Me and My Daddy Listen to Bob Marley is on our spring must-read list. Also Camille Dungy, poet of Smith Blue; and Robin Wall Kimmerer, environmental biologist, author of Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants. (Order any of these from Canio’s and get 10% off).

Session questions asked: “What is the work of a writer in a wounded world? What are women’s gifts and responsibilities in the work against carbon catastrophe? What are the metaphors we need for a new world?” We met enormously talented, committed, friendly, hospitable, concerned people. We ate well, sang (slightly off key), laughed, shed a tear or two, worried about the drought, recycled. We thought about what could be, and committed to do our part toward a more sustainable future.

Kudos to Kate Levinson and Steve Costa owners of Point Reyes Books, an exceptional independent bookshop in the heart of town. These two courageous souls are the energy and inspiration behind this extraordinary conference. Since 2008, Kate and Steve have presented outstanding literary festivals that celebrate what’s best about the creative human spirit. Live well & love Earth!

See more about the conference at this Orion magazine blog post: https://orionmagazine.org/2015/04/postcard-from-california-re-storying-the-world/?utm_source=Fresh+April+1%2C+2015&utm_campaign=FRESH+4%2F01%2F15&utm_medium=email

Who is that woman upstairs?

When a new boy enters her third grade class, Nora’s staid life as a quiet, dependable elementary school teacher simmers to scintillating as she falls headlong into an intense friendship with the boy’s mother, Sirena, an artist and the boy’s father, Skandar an intellectual, as well as with the boy himself. Nora’s long suppressed desires to lead her own creative life are tested against the example of Sirena with whom she comes to share a studio. In Claire Messud’s mesmerizing new novel, The Woman Upstairs, she portrays the inner world of Nora with such psychological precision and subtlety, we find we’re falling headlong too, before we even notice. Is it a cautionary tale? A wake-up call for women still struggling to name themselves artists before all others? Read it, and tell us what you think….

Vonnegut, Survivor of the Apocalypse

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Greg Sumner drove his car from Detroit and parked it in New Jersey.  He’s on a Vonnegut tour that brought him through Ithaca to Manhattan, then  Sag Harbor.  At Canio’s Saturday night he gave a compelling and passionate  presentation that might be summed up as follows: read more Vonnegut now! Sumner’s book, Unstuck in  Time looks at Vonnegut’s life  through the novels and charts his literary development from childhood days in Indiana to time spent as a prisoner of war in Germany. Sumner himself is also from Indiana. He teaches history at University of Detroit Mercy and has taught in Rome as a Fulbright senior lecturer. Greg’s Italian accent is excellent we later learned over pizza before his bus back to New York. The next day, he’d be on to Cape Cod,  East Sandwich to be precise. It’s a whirlwind tour, to be sure, but one that Sumner seems to be relishing. He explained he “found a friend” in Vonnegut through the novels. Someone who could look death and destruction in the eye, witness the bombing of Dresden, and live to tell about it in way that transformed the experience, that’s someone to read and learn from. Vonnegut’s father was an architect. The novelist studied anthropology; he was concerned about what an over-reliance on machines would do to people. And he was a old-fashioned guy, a true patriot who questioned his country because he loved it. During Sumner’s short visit to the East End (just a few short hours), he noticed signs for the upcoming Soldier Ride event.  It’s a cause Vonnegut would have appreciated, Greg told us, holding up the Soldier Ride t-shirt he bought to support the effort.

Sumner’s book was released on the anniversary of Vonnegut’s birth, November 11,  a meaningful connection for the author. His erudite presentation enthralled all, and his graciousness was impressive. Is that a Midwest trait? At the conclusion of his talk, Sumner presented us with a commemorative pen from the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library, a place we hope to one day visit. Soon as we finish reading Bluebeard!

We have a few signed copies of Greg Sumner’s book, Unstuck in Time. Highly recommended!

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.


Canio's Books is located at 290 Main Street, Sag Harbor, NY 11963. You can drop an email to info@caniosbooks.com, or even check out some of our stock online. Thanks for visiting our blog!

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