Archive for the 'Reading events' Category

Canio’s Lunches With The Library

Harry Belafonte was so impressed with Coal River, an expose of mountaintop mining in West Virginia, that the celebrated performer and civil rights activist asked long-time Vanity Fair contributing editor and author Michael Shnayerson to work with him on his autobiography.   Belafonte’s autobiography: My Song: A Memoir of Art, Race, and Defiance recounts stories of  Harry’s early years, his activism and rise to fame.  Shnayerson, of Bridgehampton relied on interviews rather than documents to compose the book. “He had so many stories in his heard,” said the reporter, featured guest along with writer Kati Marton, at the recent literary luncheon hosted by the Friends of the Jermain Library. Belafonte’s involvement with the civil rights movement, and his friendship with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. almost cost him his career. But Belafonte’s rise from his beginnings as a janitor to performing at the Inauguration of Pres. Kennedy to international aide work and more evince a life of tenacity, dedication and influence. Shnayerson is currently at work on a book about New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo.

“Patience, perseverance and focus.” That’s how Kati Marton described the qualities her late husband Richard Holbrooke brought to both his diplomatic career and his personal life. In her memoir Paris, A Love Story, the former NPR and ABC News correspondent describes her marriage to Ambassador Holbrooke, and before him to Peter Jennings. But Paris is at the core of her story, the city of lovers that helped her move on from loss and grief. Based on journals and bundles of letters saved, the book, Marton said, is not solely her story, but “a human story,” and one that ends on a poignant but hopeful note. Marton, author of eight books including Enemies of the People: My Family’s Journey to America,  is ready to begin a new chapter of her life.

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!

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

Safina suggests a moral imperative

Carl Safina’s eloquent new book The View From Lazy Point: a Natural Year in an Unnatural World isn’t just a view from that idyllic place on eastern Long Island. It’s a view that takes in the northern Arctic, down to Antarctica and through the tropics. As he told a tightly-packed house Saturday night, you can see the whole world from just one place. But Safina, world-renowned ecologist and founder of the Blue Ocean Institute, actually traveled these places and saw for himself the ice melt, the loss of habitat, the disruption and displacement of climate change. The book is a lyrical report from the field, a lament, but also a paean to this Earth, the one truly sacred place, as Safina describes it. What’s needed to protect and preserve our precious watery home is nothing short of a moral imperative to do so. Our major institutions, economic, religious, Safina said, have become decoupled from reality, from the world as we know it today. Yet perhaps it’s in the fields just outside the walls of these monolithic and crumbling institutions where we might be able to sew not the grapes of wrath, but the seeds of peace.
Mr. Safina promised to return to Canio’s Books later this year to read from his forthcoming Sea in Flames:The Deepwater Horizon Oil Blowout. From our small corner of the planet, we are honored to host these events while the world is a better place for the work of Dr. Carl Safina.

Canio’s Literary Costume Party – Celebrating our 30th Anniversary

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Our Favorite Cast of Characters

Thanks to all in the community who turned on their creativity and turned out to celebrate Canio’s Books’ 30th anniversary at our literary costume party, October 30. It was great evening spent with such witty friends:

Daisy Buchanan and Jay Gatsby, and their friend Maggie, a ghostly-faced Girl of the Streets got the party off to a great start. Alice B. Toklas, complete with “pot brownie” prop stopped in,  and Picasso showed up too. All the while,  a tall dark Death waited at the door. Undeterred,  Charlotte’s Web; Tinker Belle and Peter Pan floated in…and a most distinguished red-masked man had us all guessing. A beautiful Elizabeth Barrett Browning character appeared in the full bloom of love; and later, the poet Paul Oppenheimer, in a period tweed jacket, warned us: “The Battle is to Rescue Life from Abstraction.”  Rob surprised us all bursting in with a hearty  “Bon Appetite”  and wearing a floral apron and brandishing a rolling pin. Julia Child would have been proud. Who knew Leo Tolstoy was a bee-keeper! Our party was not only fun, it was educational!.

A dashing F. Scott Fitzgerald attended wearing an elegant tux, and an earthy Patti Smith, with signature black ribbon at her neck rocked the house. Sherlock Holmes spied on the crowd and Anna Karenina read plaintively.    Our host, one adorable Cat in the Hat kept the party moving.   And wherever there are writers, there’s bound to be at least one Run-on Sentence. This one counted Molly Bloom’s soliloquy at somewhere over 11 thousands words sans punctuation.

It would have been impossible to pick one winner, best costume, when so many were so creative ! Thanks to all  for your enthusiasm and your generosity. Donations to Canio’s Cultural Cafe will help keep the literary party going!

Book Spotting

It was a wildly colorful Maxfield Parrish kind of sunset tonight, all smoldering oranges and smoky fuchsia spreading behind steely dark clouds. But the young man, smartly dressed in greys and blacks, wearing a beret didn’t seem to notice as he walked along the beach road. He was reading! Not on a Kindle or Ipad. He held a hardcover book in his hands and strode along oblivious to the cars passing and the sun setting extravagantly over his shoulder. Whoever his is, he gets a prize! Reading a book in public!

A few weeks back, a young man in an uptown subway  was spotted reading Marilynne Robinson’s Housekeeping. It was all I could do to stop myself intruding on his privacy. I wondered what prompted him to choose this fine novel.  Later on the LIRR, a woman was reading To Kill a Mockingbird. Great choice in, this, it’s 50th anniversary year. Hats off to HarperCollins for throwing a nationwide celebration of the book. We hosted novelist Hilma Wolitzer at the shop this summer to speak about the book’s influence on her and other writers’ work. And tonight, Kathryn spoke about Mockingbird at the East End Arts Council in Riverhead. The talk was a highlight of their current show “Scenes from a Book” on view through October 8. Photographers were asked to depict a particular scene from any book ever written.

We’ll keep our eyes open for more people reading books in public places. What book would you like to be spotted reading?

Bob Moses, ALGEBRA Project Founder, with Omo Moses and Albert Sykes of YPP

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In August, Bob Moses, founder of the ALGEBRA Project,  spoke at Canio’s about his new initiative and book, “Quality Education as a Constitutional Right.”  Dr. Moses is a legendary civil rights leader and education activist.
It was standing room only!

Joining Dr. Moses was his son, Omo Moses, and Albert Sykes, a graduate of the ALGEBRA Project.  Both are members of the Young People’s Project (YPP).  The Mission of YPP is to use Math Literacy as a tool to develop young leaders and organizers to advocate for quality education and life in their communities; thereby offering all children the opportunity to reach their full potential.

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.

Canio’s Books is located at 290 Main Street, Sag Harbor, NY 11963, 631.725.4926. Call or email us, 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!