My folks were not that into Thanksgiving. Back in the 50s they would get you all hyped up for the holiday making construction paper turkeys and dressing up like pilgrims or Indians (back then it was Indians; now it is Native Americans; both terms are made up by humans and both lessen the dignity of the people). I think I remember one year when my Dad (who was the cook of the family) made Thanksgiving dinner with all the semi-traditional fixings. I say this because I somehow know that father stuffed the bird with corn flakes. It was more common that we would be invited to a relative’s house where all the women would join in on preparing the meal and all the men would hide-out in the living room watching the Detroit Lions or maybe some important college game.
Later on, I turned my house into the place all the lost people of the neighborhood could gather for Thanksgiving cheer. Like my Dad, I cooked the bird and all the fixings but unlike my Dad, I used white rice left over from Chinese takeout as the base of my stuffing (which also used mushrooms and hot Italian sausage for added flavor).
But through the years I have partaken of many variations on the Thanksgiving tradition from frozen dinners when away at college to a well-prepared meal at a fancy restaurant (and even the hot turkey sandwich at the local diner). Several years Dad took the family to the old Plantation House in Disneyland where they offered a good spread for good value. The Plantation House is no longer a restaurant : they turned it into the Haunted House ride. Thanksgiving was always the least crowded day at the park so we also avoided the long, long lines at every attraction.
This was also the time for my birthday and almost everyone realized that a book or two was the only viable gift (except the Aunt who insisted on giving me soap-on-a-rope every year. Years later birthdays and Christmas were as exciting as a stack of Barnes and Noble gift cards.
Now I get any book I want in a matter of minutes, downloaded from the Internet and stored on my iPad or iPhone. I have to buy these myself since Christmas and birthday gifts are no longer allowed at the advanced stage of Social Security I enjoy today.
But whether the books I want to read are the traditional paper and ink variety or whether they are easily transportable and digitally readable editions, I still sit down every month and work out a pool of reading to give some order to my monthly exploration of life as expressed in both contemporary and classical literature. Here is my list for this month:
November Reading Pool
Bold=Active, Red=Long Reads, Green=Newish Titles
- The American Taliban — Pearl Abraham *
- Chromos — Felipe Alfau
- The Elegance of the Hedgehog — Muriel Barbery *
- On a Red Station, Drifting — Aliette de Bodard
- The Artist of Disappearance — Anita Desa *
- The Big Money — John Dos Passos
- Boswell: A Modern Comedy — Stanley Elkin *
- Independence Day — Richard Ford *
- Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Sausages — Tom Holt *
- J — Howard Jacobson *
- The Old Capital —Yasunari Kawabata
- Fata Morgana — William Kotzwinkle
- Martin Eden — Jack London *
- Temple of Dawn — Yukio Mishima *
- The Bathing Women — Tie Ning *
- The Dragon Scroll — I. J. Parker *
- The Ragazzi — Pier Paolo Pasolini *
- Dictionary of the Khazars — Milorad Pavic
- Tinsel — Manoj (Vaz) Ramchandran *
- Zeina — Nawal el Saadawi *
- A Clue To the Exit — Edward St. Aubyn *
- Momento Mori — Muriel Spark
- The Dirty Parts of the Bible: A Novel — Sam Torode *
- Infinite Jest — David Foster Wallace
- Thérèse Raquin — Emile Zola *
- Haunted: Tales of the Grotesque — Joyce Carol Oates
- The Great American Novel — Philip Roth *