California Literary Review

Profile of John Holt


John Holt and his wife, photographer Ginny Holt, are currently finishing up a pair of related books – “Yellowstone Drift: Floating the Past in Real Time” (to be published by AK Press in February 2009) and “Searching For Native Color – Fly Fishing for Cutthroat Trout.” John’s work has appeared in publications that include “Men’s Journal,” “Fly Fisherman,” “Fly Rod and Reel,” “The Angling Report,” “American Angler,” “The Denver Post,” “Audubon,” “Briarpatch,” “,” “Travel and Leisure,” “Art of Angling Journal,” “E – The Environmental Magazine,” “Field and Stream,” “Outside,” “Rolling Stone,” “Gray’s Sporting Journal” and “American Cowboy.”

Articles written for the California Literary Review:

  • With Hitler to the End: The Memoir of Hitler’s Valet by Heinz Linge
    Posted on 28 Sep 2009 in Germany, History, Non-Fiction Reviews

    Unfortunately the book, while delivering a few marginal insights into Hitler’s character, motivations and global strategies, seems largely a one-dimensional narrative that more resembles a loss of contact with reality than a recounting of anything worthy of notice.

  • Rain Gods By James Lee Burke
    Posted on 30 Jul 2009 in Crime Fiction, Fiction Reviews, Mystery, Thrillers

    Burke’s life has provided ample experience to draw from for his mysteries that feature world-wise and often world-weary characters that have come to the points in their existences where doing the right thing, helping others and standing up to evil sometimes just seems like the path of least resistance.

  • Yellowstone Drift: All of This Begins Here
    Posted on 22 Jun 2009 in Nature, Non-Fiction Reviews

    The Yellowstone steadily flows down to the Missouri, then Mississippi and finally the Gulf of Mexico, always as gravity’s companion – this movement is the essence of all rivers. The repetitive nature of the day to day routine out here is hypnotic, rapidly washing away anxiety and, finally, useless ego. An unaccustomed serenity and well-being pervades as the canoe tracks its own way with slight help from me. Everything is now the river and its fertile, riparian corridor with all of the creatures who depend on this water to live moving in synchronicity.

  • Nuclear Jellyfish by Tim Dorsey
    Posted on 22 Apr 2009 in Crime Fiction, Fiction Reviews

    To take on one of Dorsey’s books is to suspend notions of political correctness (thankfully) and the sadly homogeneous behavior associated with society’s coercing decency. The novels are an energized romp through the craziness of modern Florida with humorously illuminating excursions into the Sunshine State’s past, and oh if only high school history texts had been as fun to read.

  • Driftless by David Rhodes
    Posted on 11 Nov 2008 in Disability, Fiction Reviews

    In his first book in more than thirty years Rhodes proves with ease why when he stopped writing after a paralyzing motorcycle crash in 1977 he was considered one of this country’s finest writers.

  • The Gulf Stream: Tiny Plankton, Giant Bluefin, and the Amazing Story of the Powerful River in the Atlantic by Stan Ulanski
    Posted on 22 Oct 2008 in Environment, Nature, Non-Fiction Reviews

    Aside from providing an easily assimilated scientific and historical overview, The Gulf Stream describes and mammoth natural system that helps drive the living organism that is earth. In these regards Ulanski has done his job as a writer.

  • Reflections on the Dawn of Consciousness
    Posted on 04 Sep 2008 in Anthropology, Non-Fiction Reviews, Psychology, Science

    Jaynes, a psychologist who taught at Princeton up until his death in 1997, showed how ancient peoples from Mesopotamia to Peru could not “think” as we do today, and were therefore not conscious. Unable to introspect or contemplate metaphor-driven scenarios, they experienced auditory hallucinations — voices of gods actually heard as the Old Testament or the Iliad — which, emanating from the brain’s right hemisphere, told an individual what to do in circumstances of novelty or stress.

  • Gas City by Loren Estleman
    Posted on 02 Jun 2008 in Crime Fiction, Fiction Reviews, Thrillers

    The characters and the settings in Gas City are rife with intriguing promise that never seems delivered. The story seems one- two-dimensional, never fully realized. That’s why I was unable to remember much of the book. There are a number of good scenes, but with so many quality novels out and about, including several by Estleman himself, these brief flashes of excellence are not sufficient to recommend the book.

  • High Crimes: The Fate of Everest in an Age of Greed
    Posted on 15 May 2008 in China, Environment, Nature, Non-Fiction Reviews, Sports, Travel

    All of this pales in comparison to the obscene madness that has now become the fate of Base Camp at Mount Everest. The 8,000-meter peaks of the Himalayas have become the unfortunate repositories for what is repugnant about human nature with very little innate goodness surviving. Dying climbers pushed aside, ignored and denied medical help while their equipment is stolen, greedy guides unethical to the point of criminal, drugs, alcoholism, prostitution – hell this could just as well be inner city New York or Saigon as 20,000 feet above sea level in what used to be one of the most remote landscapes on earth. Everest has become the poster child for this debauchery.

  • Man vs Fish: The Fly Fisherman’s Eternal Struggle by Taylor Streit
    Posted on 25 Mar 2008 in Nature, Non-Fiction Reviews, Sports

    This is the tough time of the year for those such as myself who love and live to fly fish, to cast haphazardly-tied amalgams of fur and feather to wild trout while standing knee deep in the middle of a gorgeous trout stream surrounded by jagged mountains and vast native grass prairies that drift off in all directions.

  • Double Cross By James Patterson
    Posted on 18 Mar 2008 in Crime Fiction, Fiction Reviews, Mystery

    I love John D. MacDonald’s Travis McGee series but always thought that his love scenes were clunkers to the point of being embarrassing. Compared to Patterson’s portrayals, MacDonald comes off like Arthur Miller.

  • Tree of Smoke by Denis Johnson
    Posted on 07 Mar 2008 in Fiction Reviews, Military, Topics

    Often written in a quiet, understated style that belies the madness and violence that seep through every aspect of life in this jungle country more than forty years ago, Tree of Smoke subtly hammers the reader with an unceasing rage that is the true nature of war’s insanity.

  • Fortune’s a River by Barry Gough
    Posted on 05 Mar 2008 in Canada, History, Non-Fiction Reviews

    By the closing years of the 18th century the stage was set for a major international confrontation over the Pacific Northwest Coast. Imperial Russia controlled the untamed Alaskan wilderness, Spain was expanding its holdings north from Mexico, Captain James Cook had claimed Northwest America for Great Britain and Captain Robert Gray had discovered the Columbia River, the historical basis for the United States’ claim to the river and the extensive watershed that extends eastward far into Montana.

  • The Tin Roof Blowdown By James Lee Burke
    Posted on 03 Dec 2007 in Crime Fiction, Fiction Reviews, Mystery, Thrillers

    Because he’s a damn good writer James Lee Burke knows how to keep a plot going from start to finish with no loose ends or out-of-the-blue surprises that amateurishly attempt to explain and finish off a narrative.

  • City of Fire By Robert Ellis
    Posted on 19 Nov 2007 in Crime Fiction, Fiction Reviews, Mystery, Thrillers

    There are red herrings aplenty, but once finished reading the novel I’m left with a sense of annoyance at these diversions, so often delightful necessities in other mysteries, but close to being filler in this one.

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