Posts Tagged 'How to Read a Film'

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.


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