California Literary Review


A Distant Mirror: Fashion and Identity in Colonial Latin America


July 23rd, 2012

The scene depicted is officially entitled Garden Party on the Terrace of a Country Home, but Tomlinson says it is known behind the scenes as “Sex, Drugs, and Rock and Roll”, as it shows the Beautiful People of colonial Mexico enjoying all the pleasures their world had to offer.

Book Review: Destiny and Desire by Carlos Fuentes


January 13th, 2011

A decapitated head washes ashore near the Mexican resort city of Acapulco. A young man, Josué, whose head it once was, uses this grisly episode to recount how he came to lose it. A more dramatic curtain raiser for a novel can scarcely be imagined.

Tom Russell: American Primitive Man


December 13th, 2010

Every Tom Russell song has something to say about the human heart. In each voice he invokes there are universal echoes of love, doubt, weakness, fear, restlessness and faith. The figure of the wanderer – whether soldier, cowboy, nomad, pioneer, outcast or pilgrim – passes again and again through his work.

Alice Leora Briggs: Art from Juárez


June 3rd, 2010

While Briggs subject matter is unpleasant, her work has a dark beauty and an immediacy not often seen in contemporary art. Its visual strength and documentary quality compels you to keep looking and inspires you to learn more about the tragic situation that she chronicles.

The Last Reader by David Toscana


February 4th, 2010

The stream-of-consciousness style and lack of quotation marks seen here is indicative of the entire novel. These techniques project to the reader the type of seamlessness in which Lucio and the other characters live. Violence and love, reality and myth, abundance and drought, life and death; these dichotomies mingle and mate, creating an alternate world extreme in its gorgeous, frightening possibilities.

Francis Alÿs: Fabiola at the National Portrait Gallery, London


July 29th, 2009

Perhaps what fascinated him about these portraits was that they show this urge to create and to communicate through art. More though, Alÿs’ display highlights the ways in which art inhabits a space of its own – outside of museums and critical appraisal. The works he has collected pay homage to the fact that it can be made anywhere, by anyone. The art changes and becomes personalized as it is interpreted and lived by individuals

Being Kidnapped at Knifepoint Is Not Enough to Change David Lida’s Love for Mexico City


July 13th, 2008

“But with neoliberal governments, an unjust distribution of wealth is becoming the norm. Even in wealthy countries, working people are earning lower salaries, fewer benefits and have less free time. Simply put, the rich are getting richer and the poor getting poorer; I wonder if the rest of the world isn’t coming around to Mexico City.”

Frida Kahlo at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art


June 16th, 2008

Art critics may speculate about the influences on Kahlo’s style or her place in modern art. In the end, these reflections, however valid some of the details may be, diminish Kahlo’s achievement. The truth of Frida Kahlo’s life is startlingly simple. She recorded the realty of her life without flinching, creating for herself a world that conformed to her insights and her experience. And in the process, Frida Kahlo’s art became Frida Kahlo’s life.

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