The Season for ‘Moby-Dick’

Christopher Volpe "Westward XIV, "15” x 10,” tar, oil and gold leaf on wood panel, antique frame.

Canio Books’ popular Moby-Dick Marathon is back for 2021 and will be bigger than ever this September, as residents emerge from a year of lockdown to gather at several Sag Harbor institutions from September 10 to 12 to read Melville’s classic in its entirety. It’s a book that speaks eloquently of themes the country (and the world) continue to wrestle with: social and economic injustice, moral turpitude, religious hypocrisy, environmental conservation and more.

To celebrate, Canio’s is hosting several pre-marathon events. On view now through September 15 in Canio’s Gallery is “Loomings,” oil and tar paintings and mono-type prints by artist Christopher Volpe, inspired by reading “Moby-Dick.” The materials used in the works are intentional and a commentary on the over consumption of natural resources and rampant consumerism. In addition, Volpe, a Long Island native who now lives in New Hampshire, is also a writer and has published a book with essays on the subject, along with reproductions of his paintings.

On Thursday, August 12, from 5 to 7 p.m., Canio’s will hold an art open house of Volpe’s paintings and visitors can enter a drawing for this year’s Moby-Dick Marathon T-shirt. On Wednesday, August 18, at 7 p.m., Canio’s host a Zoom art talk with Volpe on his exhibition and his writings inspired by Melville’s “Moby-Dick” and his concern for climate change and Earth justice.

On Wednesday, September 1, at 7 p.m., Canio’s hosts a talk back on the film “The Act of Reading,” by Mark Blumberg. Watch the film at your convenience, then join an online discussion and Q&A with Blumberg cast members. The film explores the challenges of reading “Moby Dick” through many lenses: high school students, teachers, Melville scholars, reading challenged and reading experts. This charming, quirky documentary follows many whom go “From flunking English to falling in love with Moby-Dick.”

Canio’s Books is at 290 Main Street in Sag Harbor.

Moby-Dick Marathon Schedule (subject to change)

Friday, September 10

12:30 to 2:30 p.m. Canio’s Books

3 to 5:30 p.m. Old Whalers’ Church (Harris Yulin as Fr. Mapple and Choral Society of the Hamptons)

6 to 10 p.m. The Church (staged reading of the “Sailors’ Play” directed by Kate Mueth)

Saturday, September 11

10 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. John Jermain Memorial Library

1 to 4:45 p.m. Sag Harbor Whaling Museum

5 to 11 p.m. Canio’s Books

Sunday, September 12

10:30 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. Eastville Community Historical Society

1 to 5 p.m. Canio’s Books – the finale.

5 p.m. Canio’s Books lawn after-party with silent auction, sea shanties, rope tying demonstrations and more.

Sign up to read by emailing with the subject “MDM Reader.” Give the date and a two-hour time frame you are available.