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!

Ferrante Fever

Ferrante small

Just finished book three, reluctantly. Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay, the third of Elena Ferrante’s Neopolitan Novels, ends with a bang. The books have a way of accelerating as they conclude, still I wanted to savor its last few sections. It’ll be a long wait til September when the forth and final book comes out. But just in time, an extremely rare interview with the reclusive Ferrante appears in the current issue of The Paris Review, #212 (available here at Canio’s). Check it out; it feels a lot like reading Elena, the narrator…

Once you start with My Brilliant Friend, you catch a sort of fever. “I don’t usually read like this,” said a customer recently. She spoke for many who read Ferrante rapaciously, ravenously. We’re caught in the fiery friendship, hateship, loveship between Lila and Elena, or Lenu as we’ve come to know her, in dialect. And it’s not just an “Italian” thing. Readers worldwide are captivated. “I told my friend, I’ve finished book one and she could borrow it,” a customer in for book two said. “I wondered why she wasn’t at my door first thing to get it.”  Which book are you reading? And if you haven’t started on them, what are you waiting for?

Canio’s is Here to Stay!

Winter’s eve at Canio’s … cozy!

While there’s lots of buzz in town since it was announced the building we’re in is for sale ($2.9 million), we continue on in the spirit of the great white whale, Moby Dick, still swimming in the vast ocean. Landlords come and go, but Canio’s is here to stay.

What’s more: we’re celebrating our 35th year in business and we’re bringing back the Moby Dick Marathon reading. Set for the weekend of June 12 through 14, the reading will begin and end at Canio’s and will include readings at other great local cultural institutions like the Sag Harbor Whaling Museum, John Jermain Library, the Old Whaler’s Church and Bay Street Theater among other stops. We’ll be hosting other celebrations through out the year to come including a poster contest open to all artists. Contact us soon to register to read. Don’t miss the party!

Canio’s in the New York Times

If you haven’t seen this yet, please read:

Canio's in the New York Times

Canio’s in the New York Times

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/23/nyregion/fighting-to-preserve-sag-harbors-literary-flavor.html?ref=nyregionspecial&_r=0

Be sure to stop in at Canio’s over the winter and help us “keep Sag Harbor’s literary light glowing!”

He’s Back! Big white whale sighting at Canio’s

In celebration of our 35th year, we’re planning a special marathon reading of Melville’s Moby Dick.
Canio began the tradition many years ago and due to popular demand, we’re bringing it back. Voices famous and unknown have participated over the years, sometimes reading, or listening in their p.j.s during the wee hours. Plans are now underway for a whale of a celebration, a special anniversary reading with surprises in store, special give-aways and more; contact the shop to be part of this historic event!

Mike’s Last Day

We bid a fond farewell to our dear UPS delivery man, Mr. Mike. Always the professional, Mike had been hefting heavy boxes of books through Canio’s doors for well over 15 years, and we considered him part of the Canio’s team. Dressed in company brown, Mike’s  businesslike demeanor was always pleasant, always courteous. And once in a while, we could get him to crack a smile and chuckle over some silly quip or other.

We wonder just how many pounds of packages he must have delivered during his many long years with the company. The burden didn’t seem to weigh him down, or at least, he didn’t let it show.

Mr. Efficiency would be a fitting nickname for Mike. We could practically set our watches to the sound of his truck brakes as the hulking van pulled up at our curb. That sound would be music to our ears as customers eagerly awaited special orders, especially during  busy summer months and the hectic  holiday season. And on cold, quiet winter afternoons, that sound and Mike’s brief visit were always a welcome part of the day.

In a week or so, another delivery man will be assigned to what we’ve learned is a coveted route. “Everyone here is so nice,” said one temporary delivery guy. Well, we hope so. And we wish “our” Mike (all the shops on Main Street want to claim him their “own”) very well in his new position. He’ll be inside UPS headquarters rather than behind the wheel of the big brown behemoth, warm inside when it’s cold out; dry when it’s lashing; far from  the crazy summer traffic jams, and we hope, comfortable in the good company of his colleagues. Congratulations and all best wishes to #1 Mike!

Beyond our Grandmother’s Gravy

Thanks to years  long hard work and dedication, an English- language edition of the formidable anthology Italoamericana: The Literature of the Great Migration, 1880-1943 has recently been published by Fordham University Press. Originally published in Italian and edited by Francesco Durante, this landmark collection of essays, poems, stories, memoir,  history and more illuminates American society through the eyes of Italian-speaking immigrants. Rich with biographical notes and a helpful introduction, the volume deserves a place on the shelf of any serious student of Italian American literature.

Last Saturday, editor of the American edition, Robert Viscusi offered a comprehensive introduction to the volume he lovingly shepherded into print. Translator Giulia Prestia read selections from a few of the anarchist writers included in the anthology. Reviewing the work in the New York Times, Sam Roberts writes, “‘Recounting first-generation immigrant life in ”the American colony,’ the selections don’t shy away from scabrous subjects, like prejudice, exploitation of women, criminal conduct or radicalism.'” At over 900 pages, we are clearly beyond the stories we heard from our grandmother as she stirred the pot of gravy in her cramped tenement kitchen. The collection has received hearty critical praise and a starred review in Publishers Weekly, which noted, “This volume is a major work and forms an invaluable testament to a forgotten era of Italian literary history in the new world.”

If you missed the event, stop in for a signed copy of the anthology, and stay tuned for the podcast soon to be available at WPKN’s East End Ink blogspot. ( eastendink.blogspot.com)



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