Bloomsday

Posted on 15 June 2012

By David McCabe

Leopold Bloom, the protagonist of James Joyce’s epic novel “Ulysses,” traveled across Dublin in one day. To celebrate the novel’s legacy this weekend, however, Sag Harbor residents only need to travel to Canio’s Books, on Main Street.

This Saturday is Bloomsday, the annual event that commemorates June 16, 1904, the day that Bloom undertook his journey — and the local bookseller will be putting on a Joyce-themed event to honor it.

While many Bloomsday parties celebrate with Irish food and drink, the Canio’s crew will do so with fiction. Two authors, Douglas Light and John McCaffrey, will read from stories written in the “Joycean tradition.”

Light is a novelist from New York City who recently released a collection of short stories entitled “Girls In Trouble.” He will be reading from his new novel “Where Night Stops.”

“I felt it would be a great selection for the environment as well as the crowd, and much like ‘Ulysses’ it involves a bar scene,” Light said.

McCaffrey will be reading a creative nonfiction piece that relates to his Irish ancestry. The work deals with the relationship he had with his grandmother — who emigrated from Ireland to Wainscott.

An actor, Mark Singer, will also read passages from “Ulysses” and sing songs inspired by Joyce.

Maryann Calendrille, co-owner of Canio’s, said McCaffrey originally approached her about doing a reading event there on June 16, but not one specifically tied to Joyce.

“The idea of the Bloomsday was an overlay when we got to planning and looked at dates,” she said. “And since it’s a day that stands out in the literary calendar we thought it would be fun to do that.”

“We’re open to new and interesting things, so we thought we’d give it a whirl,” she said.

When Calendrille pointed out that fact out to McCaffrey, he said he and Light, who have known each other for more than 10 years, could give the event a Joycean spin.

While this is the first Bloomsday event at the shop, Calendrille said they have a history of celebrating local writers and important works of literature. In the past, Canio’s has hosted marathon readings of “Moby Dick” and birthday celebrations for Emily Dickinson.

“As much as we like contemporary books,” she said, “we also like celebrating the greats from the past.”

It’s not uncommon, Calendrille said, for community members to come up with ideas for events like this. However, she believes this may be one of the first Bloomsday events in the Hamptons.

“I don’t know that there have been other Bloomsday celebrations out East, so this is kind of an experimental run with it,” Calendrille said.

It will not be Light’s first Bloomsday event, though. He’s attended one before, in New York City.

“It was lots of fun,” he said, “a lot of carousing, a lot of drinking, and a lot of reading from Joyce.”

McCaffrey said that though this event is likely to be a bit more subdued than other Bloomsday parties, he hopes it will pay a fitting tribute to Joyce.

“I don’t exactly know if that fever will come,” he said, “but we certainly will try to carry his torch.”

“Fiction on Bloomsday” begins at 5 p.m. on Saturday, June 16  at Canio’s Books, 290 Main Street, Sag Harbor. Call 725-4926 for details.

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