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Italian and Irish: from Dante Alighieri to Yeats and beyond

Whether you consider their poets, novelists, playwrights, or storytellers, there is much to appreciate in the rich literary traditions of these two great civilizations. Moving beyond the American stereotypes of both cultures, we are each proud to claim ancestors from Italy and from Ireland.  And we’re particularly pleased to recommend  our collections of Irish and Italian literature.  Worlds of great reading await…reading that will take you far beyond sentimental journeys repairing ancient farmhouses in Tuscany, or finding the perfect beer in the 26 counties. We continue to develop each collection and ensure the great masters are well represented. Sure, we have Pirandello and Sean O’Casey on the shelves; di Lampedusa and James Joyce; Eugenio Montale and Patrick Kavanaugh; but browsers will also enjoy discovering some new voices as well. Consider novelist Francesca Marciano, author of End of Manners and Dermot Bolger author of The Journey Home for examples of contemporary voices.  We’ve also got travel literature and history, language books, both new and used, and upcoming book events of related interest.

Lily Tuck will read from her new biography Woman of Rome: a life of Elsa Morante on Saturday, November 8.  And we hope to have Frank Delaney again at Canio’s Books in spring once his next historical novel, Shannon appears.  Meanwhile, you’ll want to read his two previous works: Ireland and Tipperary.  Mr. Delaney entranced our audience recently when he read from a non-fiction work Simple Courage: a True Story of Peril on the Sea about the trajedy of the SS Free Enterprise that hit a fierce storm on its journey from Europe to America in late December 1951.

Through the big blue door

We’ve been visited by old-timers who remember the place that in the late ’30s sold penny candy and sodas at the corner of Glover and Main where our bookshop has made its home since 1980. We’ve heard from others about the back room where teenagers came to watch t.v. in the ’50s and maybe drink some beer. Some variety of religious thrift shop sold old clothes and odds and ends here. Then Canio Pavone transformed the space into the literary gathering place and the eclectic shop Canio’s Books is today. We’ve heard rumors the huge basement was once a speak-easy during Prohibition, but then, it’s likely most any large underground rooms served a similar purpose in this port town. Access to Sag Harbor Cove through the trees out back may even have provided a clandestine route to transport the rum. In the mid to late 1850s, the building was once owned by a certain Reverend William Musgrave, minister at Christ Episcopal Church in Sag Harbor village. And the wide floorboards in back are said to be part of the original structure which dates from the late 1790s. We have yet to hear from any ghosts. But the voices of so many writers, poets, novelists and playwrights who have read at the shop have now seeped into the walls that the stories they could tell would likely continue for a long long while.

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!