California Literary Review

Biography

The Life of R.K. Narayan

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December 11th, 2019

R.K. Narayan Narayan’s fiction rarely addresses political issues or high philosophy. He writes with grace and humor, about a fictional town Malgudi and its inhabitants; and their little lives. Narayan is a classic teller of tales; an enduring appeal springs from his canvas where common men and women of all times and places are joined […]

Stanley Kubrick: The Legacy of a Cinematic Legend

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December 8th, 2019

Many continue to see the director’s films as cold and cynical, as being somehow stripped of heart and sentiment, as being products of a hard and rational intellect.

Jays, Films, and Georg Steller

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December 7th, 2019

O’Brian based Aubrey on a Royal Navy captain of two centuries ago, Thomas Cochrane. Lord Cochrane’s exploits were at least as great as those of the fictitious Aubrey, and hardly less than those of Britain’s greatest naval hero, Lord Nelson. But while O’Brian admitted that Cochrane was the inspiration for Aubrey, he did not tell us before he died in 2000 whether he had a real-life model for Maturin. The answer, I think, lies in the handsome bird that I see now beyond our sun room window.

Sudden Onset

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December 7th, 2019

From that first tingling in bed to calling 911 was an hour and a half. Sudden onset, they call it.

Festival of the Earth: Rabindranath Tagore’s Environmental Vision

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December 6th, 2019

I knew it occurred every Autumn. And every Autumn I intended to go. And after many trials and as many errors, I finally made it one August. It was the festival of the earth.

A Tribute to Hunter S. Thompson: A World to Fear and Loathe More

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December 5th, 2019

Three books changed my life. George Orwell’s 1984, Robert M. Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

Cézanne to Picasso: Ambroise Vollard, Patron of the Avant-Garde

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December 5th, 2019

The overall sensation evoked by examining the works on display in “Cezanne to Picasso,” however, is one of awe at his grasp and appreciation of the creative talent of artists spurned, at least initially, by the rest of the art world.

The Persecution of P.G. Wodehouse

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December 4th, 2019

Was P.G.Wodehouse, the legendary master of farce, party to Nazi propaganda during World War II? This question recurs decades after his death, even as the author remains popular as ever. And the quest for an answer remains relevant today.

Book Review: The Book of My Lives by Aleksandar Hemon

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May 2nd, 2013

The title The Book of My Lives is apt: rather than presenting a seamless memoir, Hemon instead emphasizes discontinuity, a series of Aleksandar Hemons moving before us in different settings, sometimes without roots to ground them. His decision to provide his version of a table of contents at the end of the book, and to title it “Table of Discontents,” is a play on words that reveals a sense of sadness and dislocation.

Book Review: Titian: His Life by Sheila Hale

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December 12th, 2012

Seeing a paint brush on the floor, the emperor reached down to retrieve it and presented it to the painter. Had Charles bestowed a golden scepter upon Titian, the honor would have been no greater. Artists were still viewed as artisans by most of the nobility of Europe. In sullying his royal hands with a tool of Titian’s trade, Charles paid him the ultimate compliment.

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: Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher by Timothy Egan

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October 15th, 2012

The course of Curtis’ campaign to document the lives and life style of the Native American peoples is related by Egan with considerable detail and page-turning élan. There were plenty of incidents of physical ordeal and, in some cases, real danger. An Apache medicine man who divulged secrets of his tribe’s religious practices died under suspicious circumstances shortly after Curtis left the reservation. That fate might well have befallen Curtis…

Book Review: Diaries by George Orwell

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August 28th, 2012

Europe had yet to recover from the First World War and the Allied peoples were at a grave psychological disadvantage in comparison with the civilian population of Nazi Germany. Through nearly a decade of political indoctrination, news censorship and threats of imprisonment or worse, the German people were schooled for war. To Orwell, the only things that could shake the British out of their complacency were the drone of the engines of German aircraft over London and the detonation of the bombs they dropped.

Book Review: Mike Wallace, A Life by Peter Rader

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July 2nd, 2012

He suffered, too, the tragic loss of his oldest child, Peter, who disappeared while backpacking across Europe after his sophomore year at Yale. His father went looking for him in Greece, where he had last been seen–and it was Mike Wallace himself who found his son’s body beneath a precipice that had given way and sent him to his death.

Book Review: The Last Pre-Raphaelite: Edward Burne-Jones and the Victorian Imagination

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February 29th, 2012

It was at Oxford University that Burne-Jones found divine beauty and William Morris. They shared a love for medieval themes, what we now call Gothic Revival, and were attracted to the art of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. Founded in 1848, the Pre-Raphaelites were a loose confederation of young artists in revolt against the false veneer of academic art.

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