Personality and Power: Builders and Destroyers of Modern Europe by Ian Kershaw

(Penguin Press) Review by Brian Tanguay In Personality and Power, historian Ian Kershaw poses and answers fundamental questions of historical analysis about twelve individuals who significantly impacted — for good…

Paul Newman and the Authorial Fallacy

Essay by Walter Cummins I’d always thought of Paul Newman as a pretty cool guy—handsome, talented as an actor, entrepreneurial supporter of the same causes I am, married to a…

Concrete Poetry: A 21st-century Anthology edited by Nancy Perloff

(Reaktion) Review by David Starkey Compare an accomplished short poem of several hundred characters—say Seamus Heaney’s “Wedding Day”—with just about any concrete poem of the same length, and you’ll quickly…

The Magic Kingdom by Russell Banks

(Knopf) Review by Brian Tanguay The year is 1971. The place is Florida, south of Orlando. 81-year-old Harley Mann sits on the porch of the house he has lived alone…

Haven by Emma Donoghue

(Little, Brown and Company) Review by David Starkey The opening of Haven (the title’s similarity to “heaven” is hardly accidental) has the feel of a classic adventure story. A well-traveled,…

Strangers to Ourselves: Unsettled Minds and the Stories that Make Us by Rachel Aviv

(Farrar, Straus and Giroux) Review by Walter Cummins Like Rachel Aviv, the people whose mental issues she explores in Strangers to Ourselves are driven to write, some with works that…

Ten Best Books of 2022

While those familiar with other Best of 2022 lists will recognize some of the titles below, we hope the California Review of Books’ Top 10 will also nudge the curious…

A Quiet Life by Ethan Joella

Review by Walter Cummins When I’m reviewing a book, I defer from reading other reviews until I’ve written my own to avoid influencing my reaction. But in the case of…

The Last Days of Roger Federer: And Other Endings, by Geoff Dyer

Review by George Yatchisin Some lines from Robert Christgau about Lloyd Cole have always stuck with me: “So what if he can’t stop talking about books and movies and gathers…