Archive for the 'Writing' Category



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.

Orion at Canio’s

On the first day of autumn we celebrated the 30th anniversary of Orion magazine. This fine publication combines exceptional essays, stories and articles about our human relationship with nature. Each issue features art, photography and poetry. At our celebratory event, were heard from Carl Safina, author of Song for the Blue Ocean and The View From Lazy Point. Safina is a contributor to Orion. Local environmentalists read, as did organic farmer and poet Scoot Chaskey and Megan Chaskey a musician and yoga teacher. Readers chose an essay from Orion’s anniversary publication, Thirty-Year Plan: Thirty Writers on What We Need to Build a Better Future. Responses to that question showed an impressive range of vision by a host of the magazine’s contributors.
We’re so impressed with the quality of writing and image in the magazine that we’ve committed to carrying Orion each month. The November/December issue is just out. Its striking cover image, small white bones arranged in a mandala on a black ground is dramatically prescient. Here on the mid-Atlantic coast, we’re still picking up the pieces in the wake of superstorm Sandy. Trebbe Johnson’s essay on gazing at damaged places has special resonance for us as we observe the changes to our coastline, the loss of life, damaged property. Yet, the essay and the magazine itself is hope filled. Life does continue through destruction. Poetry by Pattiann Rogers, Tony Hoagland and others, and photographs by Ami Vitale make this issue one to savor. Pick up your copy, or give one as a gift to the environmentalist on your list. Let’s see Orion through another 30 years!

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

 


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!