The 7 Best Books of November

November marks the end of baseball, the return of basketball, and contains one magical day when nobody will judge you for eating your body weight in turkey and mashed potatoes. But you’re going to need something to occupy yourself when your uncle starts talking politics over pumpkin pie, and you’re forced to leave the room before you start throwing cranberry sauce at him. This month, you can choose from the biography of a free-fallin' rock star from Florida, a short story collection by a hilarious Southern author, an unusual memoir from one of America’s best actresses, and more.

City of Clowns, Daniel Alarcón and Sheila Alvarado (Riverhead)
A young reporter in Peru is forced to deal with his family after the death of his estranged father, and then decides to write a story about the clowns who perform on the streets of Lima. This graphic novel is based on a short story from Alarcón’s critically acclaimed collection, War by Candlelight.

Not Dark Yet, Berit Ellingsen (Two Dollar Radio)
Norwegian writer Ellingsen tells the story of Brandon, a young ex-military member who moves to the mountains after breaking up with his boyfriend, and falls in with a group of people undertaking a challenging agricultural project. This is Ellingsen's second novel, and her first for acclaimed indie press Two Dollar Radio. 


The Mare, Mary Gaitskill (Pantheon)
Known for her dark, disturbing short stories, Gaitskill switches gears with this novel about a Dominican girl from Brooklyn spending her summers in upstate New York with a troubled host family, and her relationship with the employees of a nearby horse stable. This is Gaitskill's first novel in ten years.

Twain & Stanley Enter Paradise, Oscar Hijuelos (Grand Central)
Legendary author Mark Twain and explorer Sir Henry Morton Stanley were real-life friends for almost 40 years, and their relationship is given a fictional treatment in this final novel from the late Pulitzer Prize–winning author Oscar Hijuelos (The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love), who died suddenly in 2013 at the age of 62.

Dear Mr. You, Mary-Louise Parker (Scribner)
The star of Weeds and Boys on the Side makes her literary debut with an unusual memoir told through letters Parker writes to men, both real and imaginary: an acting teacher, a priest, a firefighter, and even Cerberus, the multi-headed dog from Greek mythology who stands guard at the gates of hell.

Calloustown, George Singleton (Dzanc)
George Singleton might well be America's funniest short story writer, and he's displayed his comic genius in books like These People Are Us and Why Dogs Chase Cars. His new collection features tales set in the fictional title town, and features his original, hilarious takes on family, religion, and much more.

Petty: The Biography, Warren Zanes (Henry Holt and Co.)
There's a Southern accent where Tom Petty comes from. This new biography explores Petty's upbringing in Gainesville, Florida, and his journey from young Elvis fan to the king of Southern rock and roll. Author Zanes is a friend of Petty’s and a founding member of the garage-rock band the Del Fuegos.