California Literary Review

Writers

Much Ado About Joss Whedon

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March 8th, 2013

Is Joss Whedon’s biggest year ever taking a second lap?

Book Review: John Keats: A New Life by Nicholas Roe

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November 16th, 2012

Whether one approaches Keats’ life by reading a biography or by the direct study of his poems, there is no escaping the fact that he was obsessed by the nature and effect of beauty in its various forms. He was also haunted by death, the sheer, undeniable, inescapable physical annihilation that awaits each of us, sooner or later. In the case of Keats, death occurred much, much too soon.

Book Review: Literary Brooklyn by Evan Hughes

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November 8th, 2011

In his new history of the borough’s development you can virtually trace the emergence of America most talented writers, among them figures like Walt Whitman, Hart Crane, Thomas Wolfe, Bernard Malamud, Richard Wright, Norman Mailer and Arthur Miller. They, among many other notables, were residents in that “outlandish place,” and, it would seem, most often by choice!

Book Review: Charles Dickens: A Life by Claire Tomalin

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November 6th, 2011

The happiness was not to last. More Scrooge than Bob Cratchit in some respects, he was not particularly fond of his sons. Charley, his eldest, he deemed to be suffering from a “lassitude of character” and he did not see much hope for the others. He worried they might metamorphose into his father or his brothers, relying on him for handouts. And he was becoming thoroughly sick of Catherine.

Book Review: Blue Nights by Joan Didion

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October 30th, 2011

We learn that Quintana Roo was adopted, a beautiful precocious girl with hair “bleached by the beach sun” and an unearthly adult sensibility. At the age of 5, she called the state psychiatric facility to “find out what she needed to do if she was going crazy;” soon after, she called Twentieth-Century Fox to “find out what she needed to do to be a star.”

Book Review: Pauline Kael: A Life in the Dark by Brian Kellow

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October 24th, 2011

So if she wasn’t pleasant, what was Pauline Kael? She was earthy; she was tough; she was not afraid of sex, drugs or Woody Allen. Cigarettes and bourbon were her loyal companions. The East Coast establishment and prissy editors her enemies. As Jerry Lewis said, she was a “dirty old broad.” But he also called her “the most qualified critic in the world. “ Both, I think, she would have perceived as compliments.

Art Review: Charles Dickens at 200, The Morgan Library and Museum

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October 19th, 2011

Dickens’ novels probed the social ills of Victorian England in order to create unforgettable images of human misery and redemption in the minds of the literary public. Conscious of how the accompanying illustrations to his text would help in this respect, Dickens worked very closely with the artists who provided these memorable pictures.

The Weekly Listicle: Method In Our Movie Madness

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October 7th, 2011

The practice of blessing mass entertainment with the bard’s prose confers a kind of loftiness upon it, or at least that must be the idea. A quick glance indicates that Shakespeare has provided titles for an alarming number of Star Trek episodes, just for starters. This week, lend your ears to Brett Harrison Davinger and me (Dan Fields) as we look at some of our favorite films to borrow a title from the works of Shakespeare.

Book Review: Jane Austen: Blood Persuasion by Janet Mullany

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October 3rd, 2011

At root, the novel seems to rest on a misapprehension: that the world of Jane Austen would be more exciting if it had vampires in it. During it, we discover that in the first draft of Mansfield Park, Fanny was, in fact, one of said bloodthirsty beasties. Did anyone ever read Mansfield Park and think “Not bad, but it could do with more of the undead”?

Book Review: Virginia Woolf by Alexandra Harris

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September 30th, 2011

Woolf spent much of her life trying to free herself from the grasp of the past, specifically the Victorian milieu of her childhood. Her father, Sir Leslie Stephen, was the editor of the prestigious Dictionary of National Biography and a personification of the Victorian pater familias. Woolf both loved and rebelled against him. She suffered a severe nervous breakdown following his death in 1904. Yet it was not until her father died, that she was able to liberate her emotions to the point where she could begin a serious career as a writer.

Book Review: Floating Worlds: The Letters of Edward Gorey and Peter F. Neumeyer

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September 15th, 2011

Neumeyer responded with scholarly esprit, but he was hard put to equal his partner’s digressions. The works of Jorge Luis Borges, the wonders of Japanese court poetry, the inadequacy of The Yellow Submarine – having found a sympathetic spirit, Gorey let loose a torrent of opinions about anything in his path.

Trailer Watch: Martin Scorsese’s Hugo

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July 15th, 2011

Martin Scorsese, Hollywood titan, enjoys a special reputation for directing violent, foul-mouthed crime flicks. Admittedly, he does this very well, but the notoriety of movies like Taxi Driver, Casino, and most recently The Departed tends to eclipse the true diversity and scope of his body of work. Even when his choice of material seems misguided, […]

Bloody Sexy Things: Adapting Clive Barker

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June 28th, 2011

Clive Barker has lent his eyes and hands to virtually every medium, from page to the screen to the stage to the canvas to the console. However, film fans know him particularly as a horror master. There is so much undermined material for gifted fantasy filmmakers that perhaps we could dispense with further Candyman sequels and retire the Hellraiser juggernaut with contented hearts, and enjoy a Clive Barker renaissance clad in all new colors.

Valentine’s Day Fallout, Chapter Two: Love Most Peculiar in My Dog Tulip

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February 15th, 2011

It is difficult to describe the feeling that My Dog Tulip leaves in one’s heart once the lights come up. The best answer is that you will probably feel several, which may contradict one another. That, and not really the questionable content, is what makes it a love story for grown-ups.

Brighton Rock Rises Again. Graham Greene Abides.

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December 20th, 2010

Acclaimed screenwriter Rowan Joffé will try his hand at the directing game next year. For his debut, he has selected an auspiciously high-profile story. Brighton Rock, adapted from Graham Greene’s 1938 novel, is a captivating crime thriller and a chilling exploration of the human capacity for love, betrayal and violence. If all goes right, this will be one beautiful and scary film.

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