November Preview

We got hit with snow this past week and today the temps are hovering around 8F/-13C (yikes) — see my little pine tree out in the front yard. It stands next to a very tall parent tree, but I’ve always liked this little one best. It’s grown quite a bit since we moved here. It’s my Charlie Brown Christmas tree. I’ll put some red balls on it and maybe some lights when we get closer to that time of year, but wait, I’m jumping a bit ahead of myself. What about November? Will you be traveling for the U.S. Thanksgiving? We will be staying here and traveling instead at Christmas, but maybe we’ll make a turkey dinner.

The year is winding down quickly now and I’m trying to read some of the acclaimed books  from 2017 that I might have missed. There’s not a whole lot of notable fiction releases out this month, or albums for that matter, but movies are ramping up. In books, there’s new ones by John Banville, Janet Fitch, Andy Weir, and Louise Erdrich among others. Erdrich is sure putting out books quickly these days. It seems like it was just the other day that her novels “The Round House” and  “LaRose” came out, and now this one the “Future Home of the Living God” is already upon us.

I must say I’m quite curious to read it. If Erdrich has turned to writing dystopian/speculative fiction in this troubled day and age, then I figure I need to get to it.

A bit like Atwood’s “Handmaid’s Tale,” Erdrich’s story takes place in the U.S. in a dystopian future ruled by a religious government in which pregnant women are being rounded up and reproductive rights taken away.

But in this one, evolution is now moving backwards, affecting every living creature on earth, yikes. The protagonist is a pregnant Native American woman on a reservation in Minnesota who tells much of the story in a letter to her unborn child. I think it’ll be filled with some interesting observations and ideas, so count me in for this.

Also I might not be able to resist Andy Weir’s second space novel “Artemis,” after liking his debut book “The Martian.” This one is set on the moon several decades into the future and has a female protagonist named Jazz. She’s grown up in the moon’s only city Artemis and hopes to strike it rich doing a shady job for a wealthy businessman, but — as you might expect — it doesn’t go quite as planned.

I’ll have to read it to find out more, though perhaps I should test it out on my husband first. Readers don’t seem to be loving it as much as they did “The Martian,” but it does have some of the same kind of humor in it I’ve been told.

Next up, I’m also curious about eco-activist Bill McKibben’s debut novel “Radio Free Vermont: A Fable of Resistance.” With a title like that and a premise about a hippy protagonist who is broadcasting from an undisclosed location advocating that his state Vermont secede from the U.S. — it’s a bit attention-grabbing. I sort of thought Gov. Jerry Brown wishes California were totally autonomous by now, but I hadn’t thought much about Vermont in that way though there is the Bern factor.

McKibben’s story sounds like a rollicking tale of eco and political activism much in the vein of Edward Abbey’s 1975 novel “The Monkey Wrench Gang.” I like the idea of a “Fable of Resistance,” my only worry would be if it gets too didactic. But Kirkus Review says it’s a “timely yarn that, though a little obvious and a little clunky, makes for a provocative entertainment.”

Lastly in books, for those who like California noir, there’s Ivy Pochoda’s new novel “Wonder Valley.” Apparently a traffic jam is the springboard for this story about the gritty lives of Southern California drifters who are entwined first by circumstance, then by love and revenge, according to Kirkus Reviews.

I’m not too sure what to think about picking up this multi-character novel, similar maybe to the film “Crash,” but I want to try out the author, whose last novel “Visitation Street” received some high praise. She seems to be one to watch.

As for movies, November is a big month. I always fall first for the historical dramas such as “Darkest Hour,” which is coming out around U.S. Thanksgiving and stars Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill — oh yeah.

It’s set during the early days of WWII when the British PM must decide whether to negotiate with Hitler or fight on despite considerable odds. It’s received 70+% favorable ratings on Metacritic and Rotten Tomatoes, quite a bit better than Rob Reiner’s movie about “LBJ” with Woody Harrelson as President Johnson, which isn’t getting too much love surprisingly. It’s cool though that Jennifer Jason Leigh stars in it as Lady Bird Johnson — so I’ll probably end up seeing it as well.

For those who liked the popular 2012 children’s novel “Wonder” about a 10-year-old boy who has a rare medical facial deformity, the movie adaptation comes out this month with Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson starring as the parents. The story reminds me a bit of the films  “The Elephant Man” from 1980 and the movie “Mask” from 1985. Oh I still will watch “Mask”  if I see it while changing channels: Eric Stoltz and Cher put in some pretty good performances. But I will wait on “Wonder” for now. It might have a bit too much goo in it for me.

Meanwhile the movies “Lady Bird” and “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” seem to be getting the most critical hype this month. “Lady Bird” is not about President Johnson’s wife, but is a comedy-drama about a high school girl — who gives herself the nickname Lady Bird — and her parents who move to Northern California for a year.

I must say the trailer looks pretty funny with Saoirse Ronan as the girl, who comes off smart-alecky and quirky. I have liked Saoirse’s performances in “Atonement” and “Hanna,” and  indie actress Greta Gerwig — whose roles are always a bit humorous and quirky — writes and directs the movie. So because of these two, count me in.

As for “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” it looks to have a more serious storyline but apparently it’s a dark comedy about a mother who challenges the local police to solve her daughter’s murder after they fail to catch the culprit.

I didn’t have much reaction to the movie’s trailer, but it’s getting strong reviews and stars Frances McDormand as the mother. I loved her in “Fargo,” but will this be anywhere near as good? Some of the same dark humor looks to be in this one too — along with having a strong female protagonist. So we’ll see.

As for November albums, if you’re a fan of pop music, or your kids are, you’re in luck because Taylor Swift has “Reputation” coming out. Remember the days when she put out country music? No more. Just pure pop pop. Even Maroon 5 seems overtly dance pop-py these days with the band’s new album “Red Pill Blues” coming out.

For me, I usually need a little more rock (or folk) to my tunes so I’ll pick Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds and their album “Who Built the Moon?” for my choice this month. Enjoy your November.

What about you — which books, movies, or music coming out this month — are you most anticipating?

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34 Responses to November Preview

  1. Brian Joseph says:

    We have still been unseasonably warm here in Long Island. It does not bode well for the planet. But I am enjoying the warm weather.

    Future home of the Loving God looks sounds very good. In light of current events perhaps disturbing also.

    Artemis also looks good. I need to read The Martian first though.

    • Susan Wright says:

      Brian: You guys are lucky on L.I. though it does seem the planet is melting. And yeah I thought you’d like the sci-fi /space book. I hope it’s good.

  2. I’m very excited to try The Future Home of the Living God. Dystopian done right is a genre I tend to enjoy. I saw Wonder Valley on Amazon earlier today and added it to my TBR list. having grown up in CA, I tend to go fro books set there! Fun preview!

    • Susan Wright says:

      Hi Susie: Yeah I hope both of these novels are good. Did you grow up in Northern Cal or Southern Cal. I grew up in Redlands, Calif. down south / desert country. I tend to like to find novels set in the state too.

  3. You can keep all the snow up there, thank you very much. I can’t believe it’s November already – I’m not ready for the holidays.

    Lady Bird looks good to me, too.

    • Susan Wright says:

      Ha Kathy, I hear ya. I can’t believe we have this snow already. I’m hoping it melts away. The holidays I’m afraid are fast upon us. We will see about the Lady Bird movie — it could be fun I hope.

  4. Hi Susan. For I have never experienced snow, your picture is a treat. Thank you. It’s raining a lot in Chennai these days. We are thankful; the room temperature has plummeted to 26 degree celsius. My father is already wrapping himself in the thickest rug and I am wearing my favourite cardigan. It is too cold for us. 😉

    I read ‘Wonder’ and loved it. I am looking forward to watching it.

    I am glad that this year is going to be over, Susan. I hope 2018 would be kinder to all of us. 🙂

    • Susan Wright says:

      Deepika: you need to visit Canada and I will introduce you to snow, ha :-). 26 C is still too hot! I should read Wonder before seeing the movie. I heard it was good. I think 2018 will be better for both of us — we will work towards that. I still don’t have a job either but my spouse is using me as a secretary now for his biz. Uh-oh.

  5. This has been one of the warmest falls I can remember! Surprisingly, there has been no snow at all, but we have a flake or two in the forecast next weekend. We will stay home for Thanksgiving. I usually host dinner for 20, give or take a few. After that we’ll head to Florida, but travel north again for Christmas… our daughters aren’t reconciled to the idea of palm trees for the holidays yet.

    I’m most excited about John Banville’s new book this month, but plan to reread The Portrait of a Lady first. This is the time of year I begin to think about all the great new books I haven’t read… will most likely choose one for the first book of 2018.

    • Susan Wright says:

      Hi JoAnn: your family plans for Turkey day & Christmas sound good. I know you’re a great cook — I can tell! It’s amazing it’s been so warm back East. The new Banville book does intrigue me a bit but I’ve got too much of a pile already. We’ll see how much we both can get to — in the remaining days of 2017.

  6. Amy Brandon says:

    I want snow! Also I want to read the Erdrich and the Weir books, which is a much more realistic want.

  7. Molly says:

    I am on a very much needed and delayed kick to update my music listening (bc it got stalled in the 1990’s), so I am going to take this tip from you and go back to earlier issues and see what else you suggest in a musical vein. As for books and movies, I always take your suggestions!

    • Susan Wright says:

      Thanks Molly. I need to go back & see which albums I’ve liked this year. I think it’s been sparse but I plan to make a list around the end of the year for what I liked best. If you’re listening to something a lot, let me know! I still listen to a lot of old songs, ha. I hope the movies get better over the next two months!

  8. Carmen says:

    I’m not crazy about the books coming out, but from this point onward the best movies of the year are supposed to be showcased. Hopefully there will plenty this award season to like because this year has been dismal movie-wise. I only have 11-12 movies rated four thus far in my list for the ‘Year’s Best’.

    I’m not a TS fan, though I like some of her songs. The 1989 album had a few good ones. I heard this morning on the radio that her pre-order sales almost amount to a ‘Gold Album’, so I’ll be on the lookout for that one. I looove Maroon 5, so I’ll be checking out that one to see if I like the new songs.

    • Susan Wright says:

      Hi Carmen, I will likely break down & get Maroon 5’s new one too. I still play their early albums quite a bit. Glad to hear you like them! I’m also hoping the upcoming movies get a lot better too. It might be slim pickings this year. So far, I’ve liked Dunkirk and Glass Castle, but what else? I’ll have to go back & see if I saw any others from 2017 that I liked much. Hmm.

  9. I have my notebook handy, writing down these titles. I love the look of Radio Free Vermont and Wonder Valley. I like the idea of California becoming autonomous, too, but I sense that is a fantasy that probably won’t work out. My dream that hopefully works out…is goodbye to Trump!

    I loved the movie Mask and have the DVD…I have enjoyed the previews of Wonder. I should probably read the book.

    I always watch movies featuring Winston Churchill, too.

    Jennifer Jason Leigh’s performances are spot on, so I may have to see LBJ. And Ladybird, as Saoirse Ronan is someone I will watch in movies.

    Thanks for sharing…and thanks for visiting my blog.

    • Susan Wright says:

      Ha. Yes Laurel, it would be nice if no state secedes but the populace decides to get wise at the next election. We’ll have to compare notes on the upcoming movies; I hope they will be good. Thx for stopping by. Enjoy your week.

  10. Judy Krueger says:

    Snow already, oh my. Thanksgiving almost here. My goodness. Isn’t Canada’s on a different day than America’s? And now Daylight Savings Time has ended here. The darkness descends.
    Great roundup of everything good. Louise Erdrich for sure for me. I never got around to reading The Martian though I loved the movie, and now he’s got a new one. Well, we can never keep up when there are so many great authors out there these days.
    I have been watching the Alias Grace adaptation on Netflix. Ooh, it is good!!

    • Susan Wright says:

      Hi Judy, thanks for letting me know about the Alias Grace show. I’ll definitely look for it on Netflix. I enjoyed the novel many years ago. We already had Canadian Thanksgiving in early October though we didn’t do anything special then so perhaps we will for the U.S. one. And I will miss Daylight Savings Time for sure! Ahh the joys of winter in a northern country. Enjoy your week.

  11. You startled me when you said “the year is winding down quickly,” but then I realized that you were right. Yikes! It’s pretty much 2018 already. Remember when we were all freaking about the calendar turning to 2000? I would pick the Erdrich and Lady Bird from your list.

    • Susan Wright says:

      Hi TJ, Time is flying by! 2018 sounds so futuristic. Where did the years go? We will see if I can get to any of these releases before Dec. passes. Hope you are well.

  12. Ti says:

    Wonder Valley caught my eye. It’s hard for me to turn away from books about So. Cal but I shall wait for your review before I give this one a go. I am so behind!

    You had some snow? I guess Seattle did too! We have had cooler weather, thank goodness. I could not deal with the heat.

    • Susan Wright says:

      Yeah Ti, I wonder when I will get to Wonder Valley — I’m so behind too, Ha. But I have it on my list. I didn’t realize it snowed in Seattle too. I went from the boil of So Cal right into winter here. Quite a contrast. Luckily I should be back at the OC at Christmas time. Look forward to that. Hope you are well.

  13. Michelle says:

    That’s a little too cold for my taste at this time of year. While the snow is beautiful, I’m not ready for that yet either. We still have too many beautiful leaves on the trees. Plus, our weather just dipped into freezing temperatures within the last week or so. I need to adjust to that first before we step into frigid and snow!

    • Susan Wright says:

      Hi Michelle, yes it’s best just easing into the cold temps. It was quite an abrupt change here from warm temps directly into Snow! Are your leaves all down yet? Enjoy the colors there.

  14. Naomi says:

    The days of crazy mild weather here are finally over. Now we’re in for a shock as the temperatures plummet. 🙂

    The Erdich sounds intriguing, but I think I’ll wait to see what others are saying about Artemis before I try it.
    The movie about Winston Churchill should be good!

    • Susan Wright says:

      Hi Naomi, yeah I hear cold temps have finally reached you there. It was a fast change here. One day it was still summer, the next winter and snow. Truth be told: I’m not sure I will get to these titles before the new year as I still have a previous stack I’m working on. But they do look interesting to me. The Churchill movie though I’ll see this month!

  15. JaneGS says:

    Darkest Hour is a must see!

  16. I really want to get my hands on a copy of Radio Free Vermont. Unfortunately, apparently the imprint that is publishing it is shutting down and I haven’t been able to locate the publicist who is handling it. Artemis and Future Home of the Living God are also on my radar but I don’t think I’ll have time to read them this year.

    • Susan Wright says:

      Hi Kate, yeah who knows when I’ll get to these three novels, but they are on my radar for sure. Glad to hear you’re interested in the Vermont book. The eco-activism genre sort of interests me. Thx for stopping by!

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