Archive for the 'Memoir' Category

The Only Poll You Need to Know About

Undone by the relentless vacillations in this year’s presidential election polls, to say nothing of that nail-biting late-night extra-inning rain-delayed World Series Championship win by the come-from-behind Chicago Cubs (whew!), I just had to consult our Parisian pollster and restaurateur Craig Carlson.

Do you know his amazing memoir, Pancakes in Paris: Living the American Dream in France? This highly recommended read takes us on a wild ride from Craig’s “crazy” idea of opening an American-style dinner in Paris, to realizing that dream complete with pleasures, pitfalls and panic-attacks along the way. Sort of like those Cubs, rallying after near elimination! Craig is victorious with three popular Breakfast in America locations in the culinary capital of the world! Craig read at Canio’s in September, and yes, we even served pancakes with Vermont maple syrup.

So how is the Breakfast in America “presidential election” going in Paris? Back in 2012 his restaurant offered customers “an election” choice between two blue-plate specials:  the Romney Omlette and the Obama Burger. They kept count, and announced the overwhelming winner: the Obama Burger by a landslide!

This year he’s featuring a choice between the Hillary “Hot & Nasty” Hamburger served with hot sauce, a nod to Secretary Clinton’s penchant for Tabasco, and the Trump “Totally-Rigged” Wrap with a “wall” of tortilla chips.  The count right now: 34 hamburgers to 4 wraps. Voila! That settles it for me! Bon appetite and happy reading!

What’s So Funny About Appositives?

Ask Mary Norris, author of the most hilarious book on grammar I’ve ever read: Between You & Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen. Among a relatively small group of otherwise mild-mannered professionals who (or is it whom?) dedicate their working lives to upholding the standards of a civilized, literate society (do we need that comma?), Mary Norris does her profession proud and earns extra jewels in her crown for this new book just out from W.W. Norton & Company (should we abbreviate to Co. which wouldn’t look as elegant but would save space, or simply drop the ampersand and following?). For those of us who’ve struggled with the fine points of punctuation, who’ve wondered what really goes on behind the scenes at The New Yorker, this book is your next must-read (to hyphenate, or not?). I’ve switched points-of-view. Is that allowed? It gets complicated. That’s why we need people like Mary Norris holding the line for us. But copy-editing the likes of James Slater, John McPhee and Philip Roth, though, is enough to leave a girl in a sweat. Luckily, reason seems to rule the day, except when one’s inner “word sense” holds sway. For these reasons and more, don’t miss Mary Norris’s appearance at Canio’s Books this summer: Saturday, July 11 at 5 p.m. Meanwhile, keep your pencils sharp and mind your Ps & Qs. (do we need apostrophes?)

Beyond our Grandmother’s Gravy

Thanks to years  long hard work and dedication, an English- language edition of the formidable anthology Italoamericana: The Literature of the Great Migration, 1880-1943 has recently been published by Fordham University Press. Originally published in Italian and edited by Francesco Durante, this landmark collection of essays, poems, stories, memoir,  history and more illuminates American society through the eyes of Italian-speaking immigrants. Rich with biographical notes and a helpful introduction, the volume deserves a place on the shelf of any serious student of Italian American literature.

Last Saturday, editor of the American edition, Robert Viscusi offered a comprehensive introduction to the volume he lovingly shepherded into print. Translator Giulia Prestia read selections from a few of the anarchist writers included in the anthology. Reviewing the work in the New York Times, Sam Roberts writes, “‘Recounting first-generation immigrant life in ”the American colony,’ the selections don’t shy away from scabrous subjects, like prejudice, exploitation of women, criminal conduct or radicalism.'” At over 900 pages, we are clearly beyond the stories we heard from our grandmother as she stirred the pot of gravy in her cramped tenement kitchen. The collection has received hearty critical praise and a starred review in Publishers Weekly, which noted, “This volume is a major work and forms an invaluable testament to a forgotten era of Italian literary history in the new world.”

If you missed the event, stop in for a signed copy of the anthology, and stay tuned for the podcast soon to be available at WPKN’s East End Ink blogspot. ( eastendink.blogspot.com)

Wrestling Demons

Three books just out challenge us, once again, to confront the evils of the Holocaust: Philip Schultz’ The Wherewithall, a long poem about the Shoah set in 1968 San Francisco and 1941 Poland; Peter Matthiessen’s In Paradise a novel about a group of Buddhists who sit meditation at a selection platform; and Martin Goldsmith’s Alex’s Wake: a Voyage of  Betrayal and a Journey of Remembrance about his family’s odyssey on the SS St. Louis.  All three courageous authors wrestle the demons that continue to disturb us, whether second-generations directly and indirectly effected by The Shoah, or those of us simply citizens of the global village struggling to understand.

These books  deserve our attention. Reading at least would be a fine way to observe Holocaust Remembrance Day ( it begins at sunset April 27 and  concludes at sunset April 28). Which one will you read first?

A Stone for Nina

One of the truly remarkable experiences we’ve had here recently was a reading by Paul Genega of his short prose piece, A Stone For Nina. An elegy really, the story describes a fascinating and unusual older woman who befriends a group of naive but intelligent college boys. It’s the late ’60s Washington, D.C. Nina has a long tale to tell about her life, full of strange twists and turns and possible fabrications. She captures the heart and imagination of our narrator, a sensitive and perceptive soul. Author and poet Paul Genega’s reading of this piece joined voice, cadence, word, and physical gesture all in subtle and expressive alignment. It was as if all the many disparate elements of a life harmonized in the work of this artist, writer Paul Genega.

In fact, Stone for Nina is such an impressive work, I’ve decided to devote an entire writing workshop to the piece. We will read and closely examine the piece, and use it as inspiration for our own long loving look at character, memory and storytelling. Contact the shop for details about this summer workshop, “Character, Memory and the Long Short Story”.

We were delighted that Paul’s proud father, in his nineties, was able to attend the event and share in the accomplishment of his son.
Editor, publisher and poet Antje Katcher also read from her new poetry collection, For Bananafish, a  collection of recent work, sestinas and haikus that demonstrate strict adherence to form combined with surprising flights of  imagination. Both works are published by Three Mile Harbor Press. Signed copies are available at Canio’s.

Enduring Irene with Lucette

Lucky for us we had a pre-publication book launch with award-winning writer Lucette Lagnado the weekend before the storm hit Sag Harbor. Her lucid new memoir The Arrogant Years has just been released. During five long days without electrical power at home, we read Arrogant Years feverishly by the flickering light of an oil lamp. The book charts the course of Lucette’s mother’s early hardships as a young girl in Cairo. Despite many obstacles, Edith is one day given the key to the pasha’s library, something like being handed the key to heaven for one who so loves books and for whom books were a literal means of sustenance.
Lagnado’s first memoir, the riveting Man in the White Sharkskin Suit: A Jewish Family’s Exodus from Old Cairo to the New World, has been a Canio’s bestseller since its release in 2007. And now Arrogant Years: One’s Girl’s Search for Her Lost Youth, from Cairo to Brooklyn, earns its place close to our heart. Written with the drive of an experienced investigative reporter, one whose love of literature shapes every chapter, Lagnado’s Arrogant Years is a courageous look at the struggles both she and her mother faced in navigating a world often treacherous for two particularly gifted women. We have signed copies of both memoirs by Lucette Lagnado and highly recommend them both. Those long days without power would have been much bleaker if it weren’t for Arrogant Years to pull us through.

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.


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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