Archive for the 'In Memoriam' Category

James Monaco, film expert, publisher, friend

Jim came to one of our literary costume parties dressed as the poet Paul Oppenheimer. We hadn’t heard of the poet, but with Jim you were always learning something. He wore a tweed jacket typical of any college professor, jazzed up with an outrageously loud tie, the poet’s signature fashion statement. Around his neck, Jim wore a placard with an Oppenheimer quote: “The Battle is To Rescue Life from Abstraction.”  Through our friendship, we learned something about the significance of that quote.

We first met Jim when he presented a set of field guides he’d just published by naturalist Mike Bottini a much-admired and longtime friend. Jim’s list with Harbor Electronic Publishers includes many important works that celebrate local history and document cultural and natural life on the East End – those very qualities that make our community unique. He published Voices of Sag Harbor: a Village Remembered; True Tales of Old Sag Harbor by Jim Marquardt; On Montauk: a Literary Celebration; Oh, That’s Another Story, featuring full-color wood block paintings by Whitney Hansen and oral histories gathered by Alexandra Eames. A fishing memoir On the East End: The Last Best Times of a Long Island Fishing Community by Clarence Hickey; an artist’s memoir, A Life of Lights and Shadows by Nicki Gioia Mitchell; and our own collection, Sag Harbor Is: a Literary Celebration. That first encounter led, over time, to a much cherished friendship.

Jim excelled at many things. A well-known film expert, his master work How To Read a Film published by Oxford University Press is considered the definitive film resource.  His other film books include American Film Now, The New Wave, The Encyclopedia of Film, and The Connoisseur’s Guide to the Movies.

Jim was an innovator and early adaptor of digital technology. But he also loved the outdoors. An avid gardener, recycler and environmentalist, Jim was co-founder in 2012 of Long Island Nature Organization a clearinghouse for scientists, educators and the public on all matters of Long Island nature. An annual LINO conference now in its seventh year brings together hundreds of participants to share important research.

Jim loved to walk the shore at Long Beach observing often overlooked flora and fauna. We’d see him there regularly combing the shore, reporting back on some little known plant just then in bloom.

Through Jim’s vast work writing on films, publishing local history, tracking the successes and failures of myriad Italian seeds he’d plant, observing the movement of turkeys in his yard, his life was a seemingly endless and creative battle against abstraction. Deeply rooted in the particulars was where Jim lived.

Jim Monaco died in late November. He was a dear friend, greatly admired for his keen intelligence, sharp wit, multiplicity of skills and interests, and mostly for his generous spirit, not one to toot his own horn though he had ample reason to. He will be sorely missed. But he’s left us a legacy of books and good deeds, a testament to his own love of our community.

Lucette Lagnado , Brilliant Memoirist

To read Lucette Lagnado’s captivating memoir The Man in the White Sharkskin Suit is to enter a world, a city, a family of exquisite beauty and complicated history. It illuminates a story of Jews in old Cairo, a family’s struggle with misfortune, banishment into exile in Europe, who eventually rebuild a home in New York. But even as the family manages to start a new life, how much have they lost along the way? To read this memoir is to encounter a paradigm of the genre. The Man in the White Sharkskin Suit won the 2008 Sami Rohr prize for best book of Jewish Literature, and garnered much critical acclaim.

To have befriended Lucette Lagnado and her devoted husband Douglas Feiden has been one of our greatest pleasures as proprietors of Canio’s Books.  So it is with deep sadness that we mark Lucette’s passing on July 10. A brilliant writer, tenacious reporter, deeply compassionate woman, she wrote passionately about health care issues and the elderly for The Wall Street Journal. Her first book, Children of the Flames describes heinous medical experiments perpetrated by Nazi doctor Josef Mengele. Her second memoir The Arrogant Years tells her mother’s story entwined with Lucette’s own development as a headstrong young woman just coming into her own. Lucette’s words and work will live on indefinitely. Her indomitable spirit and warm heart we will always cherish.

If It Weren’t For Joe Pintauro…

Tracing a line from cause to effect can be an inexact pursuit. Serendipity is hard to map. But we know for sure there’s a meandering path from creative inspiration to published book, to reader, to bookshop owner beginning with one novelist Joe Pintauro whose books Snow Orchid and Cold Hands led one reader, Canio Pavone  to visit Sag Harbor one ambling  afternoon. Canio wanted to see the town Joe had written about. What Canio saw that day as he drove through village streets and down to the harbor, was a “For Rent” sign in an empty storefront window at 290 Main. The rest of the story spins out from there, and is still being written.

So it was with particular sadness that we, along with nearly the entire East End arts and literary community, marked the passing of Joe Pintauro, novelist, playwright, poet, priest, photographer and more. Our condolences to Joe’s husband and partner of 40 years Greg Therriault, to his family and to his many friends far and wide.

Remembering Barbara Wersba

Remembering Writer, Teacher, Publisher Barbara Wersba

We remember fondly and with great admiration Barbara Wersba a longtime customer and friend of Canio’s Books.  Barbara’s keen intelligence, sharp wit and literary insight were a few of her qualities that distinguished her in a community of literary types.   Barbara Wersba wrote  Walter, The Story of a Rat, a charming story set in Safe Harbor about a friendship between a lonely writer, Miss Amanda Pomeroy and a rat with literary aspirations.  Other titles include Penny Parade: A Christmas Story; Let Me Fall Before I Fly among other titles. Her Bookman Press produced a series of chapbooks, designed by Jerry Kelly, noted for their physical beauty as well as their literary quality. Bookman Press published stories, essays and poems by such authors as George Sand, Kennedy Fraser,  Simon Van Booy, and Joe Pintauro among many others.

Barbara lived for many years in North Haven where she opened her home to writing students with whom she shared her exacting literary standards as well as her encouragement.

A graveside service will be held Friday, February 23 at 11 a.m. at Oakland Cemetery, Jermain Avenue, Sag Harbor.


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