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:

  • Résistance by Agnès Humbert
    Posted on 28 Oct 2008 in France, History, Military, Non-Fiction Reviews

    The early resistors soon discover that the Nazis don’t view their activities with similar lightheartedness. Oblivious to the reason why a German car might be parked outside the hospital her mother is in, Humbert walks straight into hell. A member of the Gestapo has infiltrated and betrayed their group, and she and her friends are rounded up for a show trial. It is only April 1941. What follows is an account that tests our 21st century belief in rationalism.

  • Fine Just the Way It Is: Wyoming Stories 3 by Annie Proulx
    Posted on 19 Oct 2008 in Books, Fiction Reviews, Short Stories

    Things are never fine just they way they are in Annie Proulx’s new collection of Wyoming stories. Women imperil themselves on mountains, animals go tits-up in ditches, young and old end up blighted or dead. Even the Devil can’t quite seem to make things work. Life is tough, Proulx says, and I ain’t peddling corn syrup.

  • How the Soldier Repairs the Gramophone by Saša Stanišic
    Posted on 02 Oct 2008 in Balkans, Fiction Reviews, Historical Fiction

    Yet it is no accident that Aleksandar begins with an account of death, nor is it an accident that he wishes himself a magician, able to wave a wand and make things okay again. For tucked in the lines of his narrative we hear ominous rumblings, like shellfire in the distance. Communism is discredited, nationalist sentiment is on the rise.

  • The Garden of Last Days by Andre Dubus III
    Posted on 17 Sep 2008 in Fiction Reviews, Historical Fiction

    Of course, the reason the affable Dubus was feeding strippers $20 from his writing fellowship becomes a little clearer when one reads the book – the tale of an exotic dancer in Florida whose life intersects with one of the hijackers of 9/11.

  • The Dancer Within: Intimate Conversations with Great Dancers by Rose Eichenbaum
    Posted on 08 Sep 2008 in Dance, Non-Fiction Reviews

    In fact, the only one who doesn’t fall in with this uplifting sentiment is, God bless her, Shirley MacLaine. With a fabulous display of grande dame orneriness, she even takes Eichenbaum to task for trying to make something monumental out of the whole idea. Exploring the dancer within? Bah humbug.

  • The Count of Concord by Nicholas Delbanco
    Posted on 18 Aug 2008 in Fiction Reviews, Historical Fiction

    Sir Benjamin Thompson, a.k.a. Count Rumford, is probably most familiar to modern ears as the inventor of the Rumford Fireplace. Yet that honorarium does not begin to cover the career – tinkerer, teacher, soldier, and spy – of this poster child of the Enlightenment.

  • A Voyage Long and Strange: Rediscovering the New World by Tony Horwitz
    Posted on 06 Aug 2008 in Archeology, History, Native American, Non-Fiction Reviews

    Gold, jewels – that was what the new world promised and that was what the Spanish demanded. It is the same paradox that had English settlers starving on the shore while lobsters scuttled underfoot. If it wasn’t what they had imagined, it didn’t exist.

  • O Beloved Kids: Rudyard Kipling’s Letters to his Children
    Posted on 17 Jul 2008 in Great Britain, History, Non-Fiction Reviews, Writers

    An Imperialist, a warmonger, blind to what was in front of him, the critics say. A Nobelist, a wordmonger, enshrined in Western memory, answer his supporters. All of these Kipling has been, but it is as a father, first and foremost, that he appears in O Beloved Kids.

  • Odd Hours by Dean Koontz
    Posted on 24 Jun 2008 in Fiction Reviews, Horror, Thrillers

    Ogres are like onions, the great philosopher Shrek once said. Onions have layers, ogres have layers. And, one might add in an irrational syllogism, ogres and onions are a lot like Odd Hours by Dean Koontz.

  • The Lady Elizabeth by Alison Weir
    Posted on 16 Jun 2008 in Fiction Reviews, Great Britain, Historical Fiction

    If you’re going to mix brains with bosoms, however, you have to be very careful stylistically. Readers don’t mind sex, we’re very fond of it in some cases, but we do mind when it’s over the top. And what jars in the racier bits jars overall. Underneath the adjectives and adverbs, there’s a streamlined, engaging book in here. It just needed a firm editor on passages like these

  • Remembering Nureyev by Rudi van Dantzig
    Posted on 09 Jun 2008 in Biography, Dance, Non-Fiction Reviews

    More intimately, van Dantzig shows us the idiosyncratic human being that powered the death-defying leaps and diamond-cut footwork. Paranoid about the KGB and Scotland Yard, perennially late to any rehearsal or engagement, often rude to his female partners, free with his sexual life at dinner parties, Nureyev comes across as a royal pain in the ass.

  • Nancy Love and the WASP Ferry Pilots of World War II by Sarah Byrn Rickman
    Posted on 27 May 2008 in History, Military, Non-Fiction Reviews

    They were also a PR dream. Initially working for her future husband, Robert Love, the young and pretty Nancy Harkness was hired to demonstrate and sell airplanes. Predicted to replace the family car, the private plane was seen as the wave of the future. If women could fly it, the perception was, anybody could. What Love thought of all of this malarkey, the cheesecake photographs and press coverage, is hard to determine.

  • Home: A Memoir of My Early Years by Julie Andrews
    Posted on 07 May 2008 in Biography, Great Britain, Movies, Music, Non-Fiction Reviews, Theatre

    Again, it took an intervention, this time by Moss Hart, to point her in the right direction. She doesn’t say much about what he did in the 48 hours of rehearsal that he devoted to her, but she does include one of his most memorable lines. When asked by his wife how the session had gone, he replied, “Oh she’ll be fine. She has that terrible British strength that makes you wonder how they ever lost India.” My Fair Lady was a hit and she belted it, day in, day out, both on Broadway and in London, fitting in her twenty-first birthday and a marriage to Tony Walton in the meantime.

  • The Pearl Jacket and Other Stories: Flash Fiction from Contemporary China
    Posted on 05 May 2008 in China, Fiction Reviews, Short Stories

    Flash fiction, or the “smoke-long story,” or the “skinny story,” as it is sometimes called in China, is short, true. But as anyone who has tried to write a thank you card knows, brevity ain’t easy. Nor is it truly fair to view this book as a kind of primer on all thoughts Chinese. After all, one doesn’t expect E. Annie Proulx’s work to bear much relation to T.C. Boyle’s, despite the shared vocabulary.

  • The Naming of America by John W. Hessler
    Posted on 09 Apr 2008 in History, Non-Fiction Reviews

    But as we travel further and further from established trade routes, things become hazier. The Caspian Sea is a blob, Madagascar has acquired an odd right arm, and India, well, India sprawls across the east, stretched and mutated into an obese mermaid’s tail. Now and again familiar names pop out – Java, Cathay – amidst imaginary islands and an eastern ocean scattered with what looks like the flotsam of a broken continent.

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