Betwixt death and rebirth, we have that holiday of feast, transition, bardo grace and gratitude: Thanksgiving. President Lincoln first designated Thanksgiving as a national holiday, and yesterday we recommended the movie, Lincoln.
This year, we highly recommend Michael Dibdin's novel, Thanksgiving. We also liked Truman Capote's The Thanksgiving Visitor, the humorous essays in The Dreaded Feast, Jennifer Vanderbes' Strangers At The Feast, Julie Edelson's Courting Disaster, Suzanne Berne's The Ghost at the Table, and Richard Bausch's Thanksgiving Night.
November is a time to be mindful of our own short existence and be grateful. Grateful for love, not just for the love we receive but for the love we are able to give, sometimes appreciated, sometimes not--but love given unconditionally. We recommend the original Sweet November.
November has a designated day to remember our fellow veterans and we should abstain from the commercialism that mocks them. We recommend Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk.
I am secular and tend to discount organized religions, yet I am glad to see them sponsor missionary kitchens with free dinners for the poor. Volunteers hand them out and even deliver them to shut-ins this time of year. Amen to that, I say.
November is the month for celebrating our ancestor pilgrims, and at the same time, this is also Native American Heritage Month. We should be mindful of past transgressions while vowing anew to act with responsibility, to stay on the right path. We recommend Christina Ricci's monologues in The Ice Storm and then again in Adams Family Values: link.
To some American Indian nations, post-harvest fall was "Indian summer," the time for sport and expeditions. November is still a time for hunting dog stories, big cat stories, and a time for the sport of football, that "little brother of war."
We usually have our first tracking snow in November. John Williams' Butcher's Crossing is a perfect November read for its cautionary riff on the irresponsibility of greed, the anticipatory wonder of the first snow and the changing of the season, and the naturalism by which we are all governed.
And don't forget last year's recommendations: