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:

  • Coffee with… Series
    Posted on 20 Mar 2008 in Biography, Fiction Reviews, Historical Fiction, Philosophy, Writers

    Barnes’s giant of the Western world is short, sharp, and funny, and well worth spending time with, even if he is, perhaps, more modern Englishman than ancient Greek in some places. As a taste of philosophical ideas Coffee with Aristotle is just right – now if only the longer treatises were as palatable.

  • American-Made by Nick Taylor
    Posted on 03 Mar 2008 in Economics, History, Non-Fiction Reviews, Politics

    Meanwhile, walls of buildings were rising, mud roads were being paved, library books were being delivered on horseback, archaeological digs were being excavated, and Orson Welles was directing an all-black version of Macbeth set in the Haitian jungle. Along with the carpenters and secretaries, painters, sculptors, writers, and actors had also joined the ranks, though with some confusion on how one measured an artist’s full working week. The WPA was feeding a need, both for the individual and the community.

  • Light of the Moon by Luane Rice
    Posted on 25 Feb 2008 in Anthropology, Fiction Reviews, France

    Femi-lit doesn’t make as many headlines as its younger sister, but it shares certain familial traits. The protagonist is usually a woman in her thirties or forties, intelligent, independent, and confronted with the crises that arise in one’s middle years – the aftermath of a divorce, the death of a parent, a loveless relationship, the seesaw of work and family, the lack of a child. And as with chick lit, it is often love or a change of place that proves the catalyst for change.

  • The Collected Short Stories of Louis L’Amour
    Posted on 30 Jan 2008 in Fiction Reviews, Short Stories, Westerns

    If you meet a quiet, rugged kind of a fella with an almost superhuman knowledge of tracking, botany, and the lawful ways of the West, don’t challenge him in a gunfight. You’ll lose. Keep an eye out for smooth-talking, rich, and handsome men. They’re not to be trusted and they never end tidily. But a trim girl with smiling eyes who knows how to ride a horse, be she a reformed prostitute or a rancher’s daughter…well, expect to see her settling down any day now.

  • Morning and Evening Talk by Naguib Mahfouz
    Posted on 22 Jan 2008 in Egypt, Fiction Reviews

    Reading these medieval entries can be as exciting as perusing annotated bibliographies at times, since the authors must restrict their scope and still cover important points: years of birth and death, full name and an explanation of its genealogy, ethnicity, education, occupation, and moral probity. What lifts them beyond the mundane is the inclusion of a telling anecdote, a quirky personality trait, a defining event, an obituary made literary.

  • My Thousand & One Nights by Raja Alem and Tom McDonough
    Posted on 10 Dec 2007 in Fiction Reviews, Mythology, Saudi Arabia

    In Alem’s world-view, one might expect to see objects morph into people, animals writhe in henna tattoos, and stones grant bearers restoration or doom. There are no rules of physics in this vision of Mecca and the city springs up like a character itself, imbued with its own sacred significance.

  • Daughter of Heaven by Nigel Cawthorne
    Posted on 05 Dec 2007 in China, History, Non-Fiction Reviews

    In a shocking and vaguely incestuous move, she seduced T’ai-tsung’s son, the Emperor Kao-tsung, and from there used a combination of feminine wile and strong arming to claim the throne of one of the most powerful empires the world has ever seen.

  • The Quiet Girl by Peter Høeg
    Posted on 29 Oct 2007 in Crime Fiction, Denmark, Fiction Reviews, Mystery, Thrillers

    A thriller is often a race, but without the understanding of exactly why this girl is so great a prize, it makes it harder to follow the runner.

  • The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz
    Posted on 23 Oct 2007 in Caribbean, Fiction Reviews

    This book isn’t a book, it’s a jazz piece, a series of improvisations on Díaz’s country, using the characters as the instruments.

  • Red Carpets and Other Banana Skins by Rupert Everett
    Posted on 12 Jul 2007 in Biography, Gay and Lesbian, Great Britain, Movies, Non-Fiction Reviews, Theatre

    The universe appears to have cheated Rupert Everett. By rights, he belongs to the Edwardian age, the gay with a capital “G” nineties, Oscar Wilde and the pursuit of beauty, art for arts sake, and to hell with propriety.

  • The Big Country: How the West Finally Won
    Posted on 26 Mar 2007 in Movies, Movies & TV, Westerns, Writers

    It’s not a classic in the sense of Casablanca or Citizen Kane, but it’s a kind of cinematic cipher. It opens your eyes to the possibilities still inherent in the Western and shows you its true star. Not a man on a horse or a gunfighter at high noon, but the West itself.

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