California Literary Review

Profile of Elinor Teele


Elinor Teele is a freelance writer and photographer living in Massachusetts. In addition to reviews and essays, she writes short stories, novels and plays for children and adults. An adopted New Zealander, she holds a PhD in English Literature from the University of Cambridge, England.

Email Address:

teele (at) squamcreativeservices (dot) com

Web Site:

Articles written for the California Literary Review:

  • Homer & Langley by E.L. Doctorow
    Posted on 31 Aug 2009 in Fiction Reviews, Historical Fiction

    Sing in me, Muse quotes Homer (the original one). “Jacqueline, my muse, I speak to you directly for a moment,” quoth our modern man. It is no accident that Homer addresses his story to a French reporter whom he briefly met. For, in a way, his account is his own universal newspaper, an elegy to the disintegration of 20th century America, the winding down of the clock.

  • In the Kitchen by Monica Ali
    Posted on 13 Aug 2009 in Fiction Reviews, Great Britain

    Yuri is a porter, one of Britain’s penniless immigrants that Ali would like us (and Gabe) to finally acknowledge. He dies alone in the kitchen’s basement, the victim of a tragic accident. Or is it more…?

  • The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work by Alain de Botton
    Posted on 23 Jul 2009 in Non-Fiction Reviews, Philosophy

    The concept of Pleasures and Sorrows is a good one. De Botton sets out on a quest to explore a wide range of professions – biscuit manufacturing, rocket science, career counseling – and reflect on modern work. This idea leads him from the jungles of French Guiana to the wilds of suburban South London. He follows the journey of an African fish to the plate of an English boy.

  • Sunnyside by Glen David Gold
    Posted on 09 Jul 2009 in Fiction Reviews

    For Gold, like Koontz and Høeg, has a way of combining farce and futility that says something about contemporary fiction. They make you laugh, they make you cry, at times they make you want to strangle them for an overuse of irony. I wouldn’t call it magic realism, though there are certainly aspects of the fantastic in each book. It’s more like acid realism, as if they were all on an amazing trip that could go bad at any moment.

  • Marlee Matlin: Bold Moves and Few Regrets
    Posted on 10 Jun 2009 in Biography, Disability, Movies, Movies & TV

    “I worry about nothing except doing work that I like and that I look at as quality work. I don’t think of legacies or what people think. They are bold moves because I’ve found I can get the most attention with doing things that people don’t expect of me. It’s just the way it is.”

  • The Twin by Gerbrand Bakker
    Posted on 27 May 2009 in Agriculture, Fiction Reviews, Netherlands

    Deceptively plain in its phrasing, almost lethargic in its pace, The Twin is about as flat as the Dutch landscape in which it’s set. Yet lurking in the white spaces is something one can sense, if not pin down precisely. A moody sense of colors – of grey and blue – of silvery insights breaking through a dull day, and of moving between the modern world and a rural life untethered to minutes.

  • Chasing Moonlight: The True Story of Field of Dreams’ Doc Graham by Brett Friedlander and Robert Reising
    Posted on 28 Apr 2009 in Biography, Non-Fiction Reviews, Sports

    There’s a scene in Field of Dreams where the camera lingers on a baby-faced baseball player wearing a New York Giants uniform. He has just seen a girl fall from the bleachers and he comes running towards her, hesitating for a fraction of a second on the edge of the grass. Then he drops his glove, takes a step and metamorphoses into the incomparable Burt Lancaster in one of his last starring roles. In an instant, Moonlight Graham has become Doc Graham, and he can never go back to the game he loved.

  • All the Living by C.E. Morgan
    Posted on 07 Apr 2009 in Agriculture, Fiction Reviews

    For All the Living is an excellent debut for Morgan, a bold book of small incidents and large emotions. It is the work of an author unafraid to wrestle with language and if, at times, language wins out, well then, it’s merely shaping her muscles for the next round.

  • The Help by Kathryn Stockett
    Posted on 08 Feb 2009 in African American, Fiction Reviews, Historical Fiction

    Yet when an author treads into specific territories, the ground becomes awfully muddy. We’re happy to let writers play around with being a Roman slave of the first century or a prostitute of the eighteenth, but when it comes to depicting a person who has lived through the Holocaust or the Civil Rights era, ah, then I think we hesitate. Does an author, even in the services of fiction, have a right to appropriate these stories?

  • The Irish Americans: A History by Jay P. Dolan
    Posted on 25 Jan 2009 in History, Non-Fiction Reviews

    America’s love affair with all things Irish – with J.F.K. and seedy bars in “The Departed,” with pure toned women in glaring-green dresses and fire-engine curls, with tales of New York firemen, Boston policemen and roguish politicians (Joe Biden is the first of four in an Irish Catholic family, though I know not if he is roguish) – is the culmination of three hundred years of complicated, contradictory and sometimes bitter, history.

  • Frederick Burr Opper’s Happy Hooligan
    Posted on 22 Jan 2009 in Humor, Non-Fiction Reviews

    Viewed in retrospect, post-Depression, however, he acquires a special poignancy. Here was a man who was only ever trying to help, never asking for favors, loved by children, and here was a society intent on beating him down. The line between comedy and tragedy is a fine one, and Hooligan’s lines were pretty fine.

  • A Mercy by Toni Morrison
    Posted on 16 Dec 2008 in African American, Fiction Reviews

    That’s it. Truly. That’s the plot. But to say that is all there is to it is like saying the Vietnam Memorial is just a black wall. There are an infinite number of stories in this book, with each new character’s narrative throwing light onto unexpected sides of the people we thought we knew. When Morrison takes us into a world, we do not visit it; we inhabit it.

  • Baby Jesus Pawn Shop by Lucia Orth
    Posted on 10 Dec 2008 in Fiction Reviews, Southeast Asia

    So let me begin by saying Orth is a very talented writer. She has an eye for detail and a knack for imagery. In her tale of a Filipino and a Westerner coming to grips with the dictatorial landscape of a Marcos-era Philippines, she saturates our minds with sights and senses.

  • Casanova by Ian Kelly
    Posted on 03 Dec 2008 in Biography, Italy, Non-Fiction Reviews, Sex, Theatre

    Ah, Casanova. Men want to be him, and women want to be with him. Or is it the other way around? He’s Romeo with cojones, Bond without the Beretta, a man more sinned with than sinning. In the annals of sexual conquest, there has seldom been a more entertaining and knowing chronicler. Casanova, according to Casanova, was a legend.

  • Frontiersman: Daniel Boone and the Making of America by Meredith Mason Brown
    Posted on 16 Nov 2008 in Biography, History, Military, Native American, Non-Fiction Reviews

    It was brutal stuff. Massacres, scalpings, crops burned, winters with only salted meat to eat – and this on both sides. Again Boone survived this melee, but it took a great deal of guile to do it. When his daughter Jemima was kidnapped by a Cherokee and Shawnee war party, for instance, he needed his backwoods know-how to track them down quickly and shoot the offenders.

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