Archive for the 'Literary history' Category

Happy Birthday, Steinbeck!

Steinbeck and Charley at his Sag Harbor home.

Imagine wrapping John Steinbeck’s home on Bluff Point with a gigantic red bow and presenting it to the literary world as a gift for the ages. This you could do today, February 27, Steinbeck’s birthday, with a cool $17.9 million, the asking price for the waterfront property where the Nobel Prize-winner once lived. In a more cultured world, that property and especially Steinbeck’s writer’s studio would be preserved for its world-wide literary value. Steinbeck wrote his last novel, The Winter of our Discontent, in that studio he named Joyous Garde, looking out on Sag Harbor Cove. His book Travels with Charley begins when Hurricane Donna kicks up those same waters and threatens his beloved boat, named for his wife, The Fayre Eleyne.  So maybe we band together with half a million friends and split the costs, however that would work out? Maybe squat the property? Better yet, let’s get local, regional, national agencies interested enough to add their voices and their coffers to this worthy cause. Sag Harbor village prides itself on being a writers’ village. Steinbeck was deeply fond of our place, and even founded our first Whalers festival. Couldn’t the village, the state and beyond recognize the importance of preserving this literary treasure? We sure hope so. Happy Birthday, John Steinbeck!

Listen HERE as co-owner Kathryn Szoka joins the Southampton Press Group to discuss saving Steinbeck’s place.

SIGN this PETITION to SAVE his Sag Harbor home. Sign NOW. Shares widely. Many thanks!

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!

All 1789 of Miss Emily

One woman came by train from Minnesota, on a sort of pilgrimage, she said. There were the two lovely sisters on their annual reunion. An African American man with a rich sonorous baritone; an elementary school girl from Vermont who recently learned she was a distant relation of the Belle of Amherst.  College students; grandparents; a Chinese woman struggling with pronunciation, as we all sometimes did. An odd choir of devotees, we gathered once again in the parlor of the Dickinson Homestead to read all 1789 of Miss Emily’s poems.

This year’s annual poetry marathon dovetailed with the Amherst Poetry Festival. We heard James Tate,  Doug Anderson and Linelle Moise read from their extraordinary work. Small presses and literary magazines offered their wares at the local park. A tarot reader read from an Emily-themed deck. A flotilla of small rubber duckies bobbed in a nearby fountain, each with an Emily poem tied around its neck. Amherst knows how to celebrate the literary arts and have some fun, too. All this and 500 varieties of beer down at the Moan & Dove. Don’t miss next year’s marathon reading likely in late September when Emily’s newly restored bedroom will be revealed.

Meanwhile, share your favorite Dickinson poem here and keep the marathon going. Then join us in early December for our own Dickinson celebration around her birthday. Who’ll be first to comment?

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!


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!