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More Moby Madness

Another busman’s holiday this time up the Massachusetts coast to attend the 20th annual Moby-Dick marathon reading at the New Bedford Whaling Museum. Melville aficionados came from near and far (Fairhaven, MA and California respectively), and read in languages ranging from English to Dutch, French, Mandarin, Portuguese, Hebrew, Spanish. Some 6000 listened via podcast from all points around the globe including Australia and the Arctic! Nathanial Philbrick, whose In the Heart of the Sea, is now playing in theaters, was the kick-off reader who got to utter the famous opening line, “Call me Ishmael.” A mini-marathon was held for children reading a much abbreviated version in one hour. The full-blown reading lasted 25 hours or so with intrepid readers sleeping overnight in the museum. A new Herman Melville room was dedicated, and a 4-hour reading in Portuguese was such a success, it will likely be repeated in years to come.

At the pre-reading Friday night dinner and presentation, we met a father and son, age 16,  from nearby Huntington. It was the son’s second experience at the New Bedford marathon. His proud father beamed with love and pride as the young man read clearly and forcefully later that weekend on Sunday morning. We met the great, great grandson of Melville, who with his two nephews also took their turns at the reader’s podium.  Author Philip Hoare whose book The Whale: In Search of the Giants of the Sea, is a best-seller at Canio’s, infused his reading with dramatic flair that brought the story to life. Mr. Hoare mentioned another Moby marathon reading in April in Provincetown. Sounds like good reason for another road-trip!

For the famous sermon scene, some 300 audience members scurried over to the Seaman’s Bethel across the street from the museum where a real-life pastor gave an inspired rendition of that Jonah story. The entire assembly joined in signing the hymn accompanied on organ and with help from the local church’s choir.

Kathryn was reader #5 on the list of 180 stand-by readers. Reading slots as well as seats at the opening and close of the event, are, in the words of organizers, “competitive.” At a pre-marathon event with members of The Herman Melville Society, an august group of literary scholars from various universities, Maryann was awarded a button reading, “I Stumped the Scholars” for her question: “How does Melville’s Moby-Dick speak to 21st century woman readers?”

If you’d like to offer your own response, we’d love to hear from you.

Sag Harbor As Inspiration This Holiday Season

It’s that deep water port that makes all the difference. It’s what sets Sag Harbor apart from its flatland farm-town neighbors. It’s here where whalers, sailors, tradesmen, sturdy women, and visitors from four corners streamed through our little village bringing the exotic to our local shores. With them came the flavors and faces of distant ports. After whales vanished, busy factories drew workers to fire bricks, wind ropes, polish silver and solder watchcases. More recently, it drew painter Whitney Hansen from Santa Barbara and photographer Ann Chwatsky from New York City. They and countless other writers, painters, photographers, musicians came to find and create a community of artists of various stripes.  “It’s not just the light, ” Ann Chwatsky said during a talk  she and Whitney gave this fall at the bookshop, “but knowing that every day artists are at work in their studios here.” It’s that artists’ energy that gives her inspiration.

For 35 years Canio’s Books has been continuing the tradition of supporting and cultivating the East End’s creative community. With holiday shopping in mind, we offer suggestions for the aspiring creative on your list: For a recommendation about excellent books on writing, check with Maryann; for a sample of beautiful and affordable art and photography books, check with Kathryn. Both are offering workshops this winter, and a gift certificate to one of those would make an inspired holiday present. Our collection of local interest books is arguably the largest on the East End with lots of new titles plus some recently acquired out-of-print collectibles. Everyone knows to come to Canio’s for poetry, but we also have a hand-picked selection of literary novels and non-fiction by local writers perfect for winter reading retreats. Artwork and handicrafts by locals are also available.

We wish all our customers, friends and family a bright and inspired holiday season. Please join us at our holiday reception, Saturday, December 19 after a reading with acclaimed fiction-writer Simon Van Booy at 5 p.m. Peace & good reading to all.

Join Canio’s Book Groups!

You’ve asked and we’re responding with plans for two book discussions this fall/winter. After the outpouring of interest in the Moby Dick Marathon this June, some have wondered, what about the women? We think Sena Jeter Naslund’s Ahab’s Wife is the perfect response. Taking off from a passing reference in Melville’s Moby-Dick, Naslund spins an engrossing epic of the adventures of one feisty woman. “Captain Ahab was neither my first husband nor my last,” she says in the book’s opening line. Hold fast to the ropes, dear readers, you’re in for one unforgettable Nantucket sleigh ride.

We’ve also heard the cry for “more Steinbeck!” So we’re starting with the novel he wrote while living in Sag Harbor. Set in the fictional New Baytown and inspired by Sag Harbor, Winter of Our Discontent explores the moral crisis faced by one Ethan Hawley, son of Pilgrim Fathers and whaling captains, now a  clerk at the town’s grocery store (think Schiavoni’s).

Each group will be led by a guest facilitator. Sign up for the groups and receive a discount on purchase of the books.

Ferrante Fever

 IT’S HERE! #FerranteFever

ferrante

#4 of The Neapolitan Novels:  The Story of a Lost Child

Call to reserve a copy. Join us September 1, 5 p.m. for Prosecco, biscotti, and Ferrante Fever!

Hast Thou Seen the White Whale?

MOBY DICK Marathon Info

whale

No one can actually see it in its entirety, the Great White Whale; it’s too big, too white, too fast, too darkly hidden in an ocean we know not how deep.  Swimming still, even after Captain Ahab’s best and worst efforts, Moby Dick, that majestic, fearsome, sacred creature will be celebrated once again during our marathon reading set for June 12 through 14 in Sag Harbor village. A double anniversary, Canio’s Books 35th and Southampton Town’s 375th, the weekend event takes place at various locations and culminates in a party after the last word it uttered, Sunday afternoon. A few years after Canio Pavone first opened Canio’s Books, he and some literary friends picked Herman Melville’s magnificent work, Moby-Dick as the best book to be read aloud in a village that once was a significant whaling port. There’s something for everyone in its pages: sea-faring suspense, tragedy, comedy, themes of the battle between good and evil, fate and chance, free will, religion, race, sexuality, man and nature, obsession and madness. Ahoy! We hope you’ll join us for some or all of this literary party. And we’re looking for sponsors, too. For one-hundred dollars you can sponsor your favorite chapter of this great American novel.

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?)

Literature Amid the Cypress and Eucalyptus

Some twenty of us carpooled down to Point Reyes National Seashore early one chilly fog-thick afternoon. We walked down (and then slowly up) some 300 steps to the lighthouse following our intrepid guide, marine biologist Sarah Allen, author of Marine Mammals of the Pacific Coast.She trained her scope on a flock of shore birds invisible to the naked eye. Soon , someone spotted a whale blow, the foamy exhalation of this giant majestic creature. We gasped and rushed to the best vantage point. Why does a group of otherwise fairly serious adults seem to melt at the sight of whales? Is some basic creaturely connection at work?

Are the boundaries between humans, “animals,” “nature” really boundaries at all? What are our  responsibilities to our fellow creatures, to our island home? These and other questions were discussed during a lively, colorful, musical, literary and delicious conference we attended: Geography of Hope 2015. Some of our all-time favorite writers on women and the environment gave presentations: Susan Griffin, author of the groundbreaking work: Woman and Nature: The Roaring Inside Her which birthed the eco-feminist movement; Rebecca Solnit whose recent bestseller The Faraway Nearby gained much critical acclaim; Kathleen Dean Moore, co-chair of the conference, whose Moral Ground: Ethical Action for the Planet is a must read; and Gretel Ehrlich whose stunning Solace of Open Spaces is just one of some 14 powerful works. Award-winning poet/activists Brenda Hillman and Robert Hass read from their moving, engaged and lyrical works.

We were introduced to writers we want to read: Ann Pancake, whose novel Strange As This Weather Has Been describes a West Virginia family devastated by mountain-top removal. Her new collection of stories, Me and My Daddy Listen to Bob Marley is on our spring must-read list. Also Camille Dungy, poet of Smith Blue; and Robin Wall Kimmerer, environmental biologist, author of Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants. (Order any of these from Canio’s and get 10% off).

Session questions asked: “What is the work of a writer in a wounded world? What are women’s gifts and responsibilities in the work against carbon catastrophe? What are the metaphors we need for a new world?” We met enormously talented, committed, friendly, hospitable, concerned people. We ate well, sang (slightly off key), laughed, shed a tear or two, worried about the drought, recycled. We thought about what could be, and committed to do our part toward a more sustainable future.

Kudos to Kate Levinson and Steve Costa owners of Point Reyes Books, an exceptional independent bookshop in the heart of town. These two courageous souls are the energy and inspiration behind this extraordinary conference. Since 2008, Kate and Steve have presented outstanding literary festivals that celebrate what’s best about the creative human spirit. Live well & love Earth!

See more about the conference at this Orion magazine blog post: https://orionmagazine.org/2015/04/postcard-from-california-re-storying-the-world/?utm_source=Fresh+April+1%2C+2015&utm_campaign=FRESH+4%2F01%2F15&utm_medium=email


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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