Staff Picks: Turkeys and French Cinema


This Week’s Reading

Most accounts of turkeys in literature describe the process of hunting or cooking them (Teddy Roosevelt’s sketch of stalking the “peevish piou-piou! of the sleepy birds” is rather lovely, even though the turkeys don’t live beyond the next page). In 1978, however, Donald Barthelme reinvigorated the genre with a grumpy but dead-on essay expressing his annoyance at this “mockery of a holiday.” This year’s new discovery dates from 1982, when Jim Nollman recorded his musical collaboration with a large flock of the delicious birds on Playing Music with Animals: Interspecies Communication of Jim Nollman with 300 Turkeys, 12 Wolves and 20 Orcas (America Folkways, of course). The feathered singers join Nollman for a rendition of “Froggy Went a-Courting.” Nollman’s aim? To “[ride] the shared musical energy without aggravating the turkeys.” Make it part of your holiday tradition. —Nicole Rudick

It is never too late to see a movie you should have seen years ago, like L’Avventura. I think there is something to be said for seeing a great thing so late. It feels like being rescued. That’s what I saw this week, as well as two beautiful films by Philippe Garrel, J’entends plus la guitare and Baisers de secours (both introduced by our own diarist Richard Brody), plus Godard’s 1980 bummer Every Man for Himself, plus Alain Cavalier’s charming melodrama Le Combat dans l’ile, all about a fun-loving Parisienne who discovers that her weak-willed industrialist husband is secretly a member of a terrorist cell, and Le Amiche, and the first three films of Terence Malick. Yes, I’ve been out sick this week and have read not one submission. May Monica Vitti forgive me. May Monica Vittii forgive us all. —Lorin Stein

If the Thanksgiving holiday hasn’t made you want to swear off eating altogether and fast in the middle of a spa in the California desert, then try the beautiful, bold, and hefty Essential New York Times Cookbook, edited by the fabulous Amanda Hesser, who cooked (and updated) each and every recipe in this 932-page book. —Thessaly La Force