Archive for the 'Sag Harbor' 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.

20 Years at Canio’s!

How did we get here? How did we get to be counting 20 wonderful miraculous years as owners of Canio’s Books? We got here because of so many dear loyal fascinating smart quirky customers who’ve taught us much over the years. Who’ve supported us as their neighborhood bookshop, or who’ve ordered books from afar; who came to events in all kinds of weather, who were speakers themselves; who made donations, baked cookies, autographed copies; who volunteered to help keep our doors open.  Through twenty very full years as booksellers, we’ve been humbled, amazed, inspired by all those we’ve met here at Canio’s. The bookshop is indeed our University. Thank you for being part of our ongoing efforts to give back to this community so rich in creativity, in literary and artistic history, and precious natural beauty.

Read more about our anniversary here: https://easthamptonstar.com/20191017/20-years-literature-and-community-canios

Come celebrate with us at our Literary Costume Party, Saturday, November 2 from 5 to 7 p.m. Dress as your favorite writer, character or creative person. And that could be you!

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.

Got Moby?

If you’ve groaned whenever someone mentioned Melville’s  Moby-Dick, if you’ve tried to read it but couldn’t, or if you’ve run screaming away from it,  we want you! One of the reasons we continue the marathon reading tradition, begin around 1983 at the bookshop, is to introduce this leviathan beauty to new readers. Sure we love the book. Sure we cheer when it mentions Sag Harbor (twice). But we really love the way it calls to new readers even in 2019. We want to give folks an easy way in to the language, the poetry, the vast sprawl of the book. Come listen for a bit. Hearing the great work read aloud makes quick converts. You can’t help get swept out to sea with Ishmael, Quequeg, Starbuck and Capt. Ahab. This year’s event will be our best-ever. It’s Melville’s Bicentennial! We’re honored actors Harris Yulin and Alec Baldwin will read. We want to be sure you’ve Got Moby, too. June 7 through 9.  See our 2019 MOBY-DICK MARATHON EVENTS SCHEDULE

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.

Keeping Sag Harbor Salty

Sag Harbor without its cinema, is one thing. A very big thing. We hope the cinema will be rebuilt soon. But now the pizza place? Word is out that Conca D’Oro, recently sold to a well-known restaurateur who promises to keep the name and the general feel of this 1950s-style trattoria. We hope so.

All this change makes us only more committed to keeping Sag Harbor a little bit salty. To provide this village with quirky and interesting books worth reading. To bring engaging voices to the community. To be a place for people, passion, poetry, prose & yes, T-shirts. Literary ones. Our handsome midnight-blue Moby-Dick marathon 2017 issue, for example.

If you haven’t been by for a while, you’ll find not much has changed about the basic plan of the shop. The floor boards still creak and the shelves are still jammed. If you’re a frequent visitor, you know there’s always something new to discover in those stacks.

Sometimes things can get just a little too slick around here. But rest assured, we at Canio’s will do our part to keep Sag Harbor’s literary legacy going strong. Now, please pass the salt.

 

 

Not the Last Picture Show

Just two weeks ago we went to see Moonlight at the Sag Harbor Cinema. We bought our tickets from the lovely lady in the little booth, got a bag of popcorn and grabbed a few of those small thin napkins neatly arrayed on the counter. We found our favorite seats, row five, center and settled into the chattering darkness. What a heartbreakingly beautiful film Moonlight is, and how further heartbreaking that Moonlight is the last film we saw at that historic movie house.

The facade’s been torn down after Friday’s fire, piles of black rubble carted away. A gaping dark hole in the street where dreams and fantasies once flickered on the screen. The Sag Harbor Cinema, lone independent movie house on the East End brave enough to show “art” films and “foreign” films, and films that challenged as even as they inspired us. The musty smell of the old seats, the banging pipes as  heat slowly seeped into that cavernous room are now nostalgic memories.

cinema-interior-post-fire

We hope they will rebuild. We’re sure other buildings damaged or destroyed will rise again Phoenix-like from the ashes. We’re thankful no one was injured. We are all so grateful to our heroic firefighters. How quickly our compassionate community pulled together to lend a hand. A friend described a fire as something that refines, or clarifies, I put in. Just what will be refined or clarified from this December 16 fire remains to be seen. But fundraising efforts are underway and Sag Harbor will rise again! The village has endured several  devastating fires from the time when villagers lit their lamps with whale oil to as recently as just a few years back. Please show your support for Main Street Sag Harbor, this holiday season and beyond.

*Photo taken the day after the fire. (c) Kathryn Szoka

Just ask a bookseller!

We’re deep into tourist season, for which we’re grateful. Visitors from all points pass through our doors. We love hearing their impressions of this place, and are generally happy to answer the usual and not so usual questions we’re asked.

Need directions? Restaurant recommendations?  A place to rent?  A job,  a husband, maybe? Well, just ask your local bookseller. While Yelp,  Air bnb and GPS have satisfied most, some still prefer the personal touch. So in the course of a day, we get asked everything from where’s the Tomato Lady to what to read at the beach. It’s nice to be thought of as knowledgeable, but sometimes it’s just impossible to satisfy every inquiry.

“What do you do in here all day?” someone once asked.

Another wanted to know if a certain local author would make a suitable mate. No comment!

One admired a devotional candle we display near spirituality books. The candle’s not for sale, I explained, but could be found in the supermarket. “But which aisle would they be in?”

One sunny weekend, a woman burst in. “Hellooo?” she called.  “Where’s the best place to buy steak?” That’s a new one, we thought …and we don’t even eat red meat.  I wondered how to parlay this into a book sale. Recommend Omnivore’s Dilemma?  Instead I suggested  the butcher at Schiavoni’s Market.   I gave directions to the shop. “But I don’t regularly buy steak,” I confessed. She seemed disappointed. “Then where’s the best place to buy fish?”

Has a bookseller helped you with a non-book-related question? Let us know.

Walt is coming!

“Starting from Paumanok”, and continuing all day in Sag Harbor, community readers will gather at Canio’s on Saturday, May 21 from 10 a.m. until around 6 p.m. to read from Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass. Don’t miss a chance to meet “Mr. Whitman Long Island,” aka Darrel Blaine Ford, who in his eighties and with a long white beard bears a striking resemblance to America’s most well known poet. When he was only a child, Mr. Ford took a very long bicycle ride from his home near the South Shore to the  Whitman birthplace in West Hills.  Whitman himself trekked up and down Long Island from Brooklyn out to Montauk with regular visits to his sister in Greenport.

On Friday, May 20 at 6 p.m. learn more about Whitman on Long Island with speaker William T. Walter, president of the Whitman Birthplace who will join us at Canio’s and set us on the right path for our all-day reading on Saturday.

Finally, pick up a copy of Leaves, a tin of Whitman’s green tea blend, or if you’re reading with us, you’ll receive a commemorative button. And don’t miss our after-party, Saturday evening….after all, we’re celebrating Whitman’s birthday!


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