Archive for the 'Writing' Category



Busmen’s Holiday

We can’t visit a new city without stopping in its bookstores. Who wouldn’t want to, even, or especially, while on vacation? We walked into River Run Books in Portsmouth, New Hampshire where we’d been before albeit in its different locations. Portsmouth is an interesting, historic and lively place, and River Run is a great shop full of contemporary and classic titles, local interest books, second-hand sale books, gifts and a new publishing sideline. While wandering the well-stocked tables and chatting with knowledgeable shop owner Tom, we learned that the next night Salman Rushdie would speak at The Music Hall as part of their Writers on a New England stage series.  Rushdie’s new memoir Joseph Anton describes his harrowing experience during the fatwa. It’s also about his school years, his marriages, his life as a writer, the intrigues of the publishing world.

Tom saw to our tickets, and to our surprise, even invited us to the V.I.P. reception backstage after the presentation.The historic theatre that dates from 1878 was packed. Over 750 people filled the hall to hear Rushdie read from Joseph Anton and converse with a New Hampshire public radio journalist. You had the feeling the man, the writer was coming back into his own, stepping out from behind a dark curtain of years lived in secrecy, and he emerged confidently as the formidable artist he is. After the talk, some one hundred v.i.p.s crowded into the reception area and nibbled delectable goodies and sipped delicious drinks. When we presented our books to by signed by the author, Rushdie said he remembered Canio’s. He’d been there several times having visited Kurt Vonnegut who’d lived in Sagaponack. Some twenty-plus years have elapsed since then, and unimaginable challenges have been endured. But Rushdie has shaken free those dark years having written this fascinating account — a testament to the strength of his own character. Of course, we invited him to visit Canio’s again. Welcome back, Salman Rushdie!

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!

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.

Everything Beautiful…Begins Here!

When you begin with influences like Proust, Joyce, William Maxwell and Anne Michaels, you understand the highly literary, moody, imaginative and slightly melancholy world created in Simon Van Booy’s new novel, Everything Beautiful Happened After. Simon spoke at the shop recently about his literary influences and read from his new work finding just the right accents for George, the linguist from Kentucky, and Henry, the British archaeologist. The delicate web woven around these characters and the lovely Rebecca, a painter from Paris, is strung with willowy sentences that span emotional valleys like a lifeline. The setting is one summer in Athens that marks these characters for life. The novel feels like the natural progression from Van Booy’s previous story collections, Love Begins in Winter and The Secret Lives of People in Love. It’s been our pleasure as booksellers to observe such a fine young writer develop his unique voice with such grace, sensitivity and style.

Were you stuck in summer traffic and missed the event? Despair not. A few signed copies are still available. Stay tuned for an upcoming workshop with Simon at Canio’s; see  http://www.caniosbooks.com

In Memoriam Robert Long, October 15, 1954 – October 13, 2006

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LOVE POTION NO. 9

This is the most beautiful day
Of all time: 80 clear degrees,
Summer sunlight jazzing a slope of trees
Like broccoli against the so-blue sea, boats,

Tiny jewels adrift, silent on the horizon.
From my car parked in front of a church
I can watch the most beautiful boy
I have ever seen mow the lawn: he’s blond, maybe 16,

Very tan, skinny, just wearing baggy black shorts,
And all the long young muscles move
Under his warm brown skin
As he shoves the big mower around,

His kid’s angel face placid and purposeful . . .
All the way back along the fast hilly highway
Stands of evergreens and oaks soak up the sun,
The radio blares, I am happy

Thinking of the boy and the sea. Racing
The twist of roads home, the beautiful gargle
Of twin camshafts at 6,000 rpm tells me
That this is all I need: 5 p.m. melon-colored sunlight

Slanting over the silver hood. What greens
In the trees, what a rich cerulean sky, what joy
Kicking it down into third
And screaming around the curve,

Soundgarden on the radio, and the retinal image
Of the grass-mowing kid even better than Tiepolo,
Better than Brahms, reachable, ecstatic, true.
O this is the world I want without end.

— Robert Long, “Blue”
POET * FRIEND * EDITOR

 

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.

Mark Doty’s “The ART of Description” Talk

July 31, 2010

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How fortunate we are to have poet Mark Doty in our midst, and how indescribable the pleasure of hearing him speak of the writer’s craft, the challenge and impossibility of rendering into language the exquisite sensations of human experience.  But that’s what keeps us writing, trying to get it just right.  In the end, it is the sensibility of the writer we enjoy just as much if not more than the thing described. “Description is an ART to the degree that it gives us not just the world but the inner life of the witness,” he writes. See more in The Art of Description: World into Word. Signed copies available at Canio’s.

Lucky Solstice

You could say the luck began back around Thanksgiving time. Mark Doty had been announced the winner of the National Book Award for his poetry collection Fire to Fire. We’d already scheduled a reading from his memoir Dog Years. How fortuitous now that our audience could congratulate him on this great honor. When the poet read from his memoir, he read each word with the breath and sound of poetry.   Just now an old golden lab and a young man are walking through the light snowfall on upper Main Street, Sag Harbor.  A sign of Beau, perhaps? or just another daily ritual of caring this dark afternoon?  Mark spent time with each question from the audience, answered each generously, encouragingly, the poet teacher sharing his gifts. Here, he seemed to say, you try…

Some weeks later, storyteller and novelist Gioia Timpanelli lit the candles for Santa Lucia on her feast day, December 13.  The patron saint of Siracusa offered her eyes to the world. “Here,” she might have said, “take them, and see.”  Gioia’s new novel What Makes a Child Lucky takes place in Sicily, in a time of great hunger, or as the introduction suggests: “anyplace at anytime.”  Gioia spun out the story as we sat rapt in its charms.  Lucky us, we were able to make an audio recording thanks again to Tony Ernst at WPKN independent radio.  Check the link for this and other special programs: http://eastendink.blogspot.com

Books bring light to our lives. .. Bright Solstice to all!

New Friend from Far Away

She entered the crowded bookshop carrying a huge plant, lavender chrysanthemums, a gift, joyful. Several in the audience had been in her workshops over the years.  Others were meeting Natalie Goldberg for the first time. She greeted everyone warmly.  Natalie had traveled a long way, from Santa Fe to the East coast.  Her visit would ultimately bring her to Lenox, Massachusetts to give a workshop, but this night she was on home ground, Long Island.  She read from Long Quiet Highway: Waking Up in America, one of her memoirs.  The scene she chose was her high school English class in Farmingdale. Her teacher, the poet Vince Clemente had turned the lights out so students could listen to the rain, in the quiet, in the darkened room.  For the young Natalie, struggling in soulless suburbia, this moment, this gesture, this teacher “saved her life.”  For those of us in the audience lucky enough to know Vince and his generous ways sharing his love of poetry, always crediting the masters, Natalie’s tribute  was especially moving.  The whole evening’s presentation was magical.

After reading from her poetry collection, Top of My Lungs, Goldberg continued with selections from her new work, Old Friend From Far Away: The Practice of Writing Memoir. She was generous answering questions from those who sat in rapt attention, and when she finished, no one moved.  We’ve had a lot of readings over the years at Canio’s Books, but we’ve never seen this response. No one wanted to leave. We all just sat, perfectly comfortable in the cramped space, transfixed.  No one knows how many books, poems, works of art Natalie Goldberg may have inspired, but this night, we’re certain she inspired a whole lot more.  If you missed this memorable event, we have a few souvenirs: signed copies of Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within; Long Quiet Highway,  Top of My Lungs; and Old Friend From Far Away.  What great gifts these would make to an aspiring writer, or for one writing who needs new inspiration.  What a great gift Natalie gave us this night: a new friend from far away.


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