Limited Edition Paper Backlist Still Available

We still have some of Lionel Rolfe’s paper edition books available for autographing. Literary L.A. is available in both the original Chronicle Books edition of 1981 and the expanded 2002 California Classics edition as well. Contact us telling us which book you want and the text you want it to be inscribed with and where you want it delivered. Prices are reasonable

The Menuhins: A Family Odyssey

The Menuhins is the story of a miraculous family of great musicians and religious leaders. It is told here for the first time by the nephew of Yehudi Menuhin, the violinist regarded as the greatest musical prodigy since Mozart. Elements of the story have been told before: how two Russian Jews living in San Francisco, Moshe and Marutha Menuhin, raised a brood of child prodigy musicians that astounded the world. It seemed the stuff of legend. Yehudi, with his violin and his younger pianist sisters, Hephzibah and Yaltah, displayed as children a musical gift rarely equaled by the finest musicians. But few outside the family have known the true dimensions of the Menuhin miracle, for the incredible Menuhin children were not the first prodigies in the family’s unique history. For centuries, the Menuhin line had been producing geniuses, yet the elder Menuhins withheld the details of Yehudi’s exotic lineage. There was The MaHaRal, a great rabbi and the creator of the legendary Golem; Schneur Zalman, the founder of Chabad Hassidism and the composer of powerful religious songs; and all the great Schneersohns, the hereditary first family of the Lubavitch Hassids. Although Rolfe, the son of Yaltah Menuhin, often focuses on his famous uncle, he has ventured beyond the Menuhin public image with an intimacy that only a Menuhin could bring to this family portrait. From the ghettos and pogroms of czarist Russia, to the settlements in Palestine at the turn of the century, to the Jewish communities in New York and San Francisco in the twenties, Rolfe takes the reader on his own personal odyssey into the past. It is often a difficult and painful story, for The Menuhins is Rolfe’s search for his own place in the Menuhin tradition. He tells about the joys and frustrations of growing up a Menuhin: his flirtations with the Hassidic Judaism of his ancestors; his rejection by his grandfather, the volatile anti-Zionist; and his own discussions with Yehudi about things such as world peace.

Literary L.A. : Expanded From the Original Classic and Featuring the Coffeehouse Scene Then and Now

California Classics Edition, 2002

Beyond L.A.’s self-promotional glitter is a hotbed of writers, bohemians, mad poets, exiles and refugees from every form of oppression – and this book tells their stories. The new additions include • bohemian and apocalyptic streams in L.A. writing • the thriving coffeehouse scene, including the new L.A. poets • additional chapters by John Ahouse and Julia Stein Among the transients, literary gypsies, bohemians and writers in imposed or self-imposed exile are Oscar Zeta Acosta, Charles Bukowski, Henry Miller, Ken Kesey, Carey McWilliams, Charles Lummis, Jacob Zeitlin, Louis Adamic, Nathanel West, Robinson Jeffers, Malcolm Lowry, Thomas and Heinrich Mann, Upton Sinclair, John Steinbeck, Aldous Huxley, Jack London, Theodore Dreiser, and many others

The Uncommon Friendship of Yaltah Menuhin & Willa Cather

Here is a personal yet universal book which not only provides illuminating new insight into two important women artists, but also raises many provocative questions about the effects of societal and familial constraint on the lives of brilliant women. In recent years, much light has been shed on the remarkable life and writing of American author Willa Cather (1873-1947), many of whose novels explored the subject of women and creativity. Now, acclaimed author Lionel Rolfe has delved into his family history to reveal the extraordinary story of the friendship between Willa Cather and his mother, piano prodigy Yaltah Menuhin (1920-2001). Against the tumultuous backdrop of America and Europe in the early and mid-20th century, Rolfe presents the engrossing chronicle of his mother’s struggle as a budding musician, her tragic relationship with her own parents, and the solace she found when Cather became her mentor—a mutually inspiring friendship which would endure for decades and would see Yaltah inspiring some of the most memorable heroines in Cather’s novels, most notably Lucy Gayheart.

Fat Man on the Left: Four Decades in the Underground

In essays about American culture and politics, Lionel Rolfe, a scion of the world-renowned musical Menuhin family mixes it up with royalty, revolutionaries, murderers, celebrities and visionaries, in a journey that juxtaposes his uncle, classical master violinist Yehudi Menuhin, and Frank Zappa. “Why might a reader pick up this anecdotal memoir of an unusual life? Rolfe’s uncle is Yehudi Menuhin; both belong to the Schneersohn family from which leaders of the Lubavitcher movement are drawn. Rolfe has written for several dozen major publications (and been blacklisted out of several dozen more, thanks to his politics). He wrote two books on “literary L.A.,” where he grew up, and has met, interviewed, and/or interacted with dozens of writers, politicians, actors, rock stars, and other notables over the past several decades. In this volume’s 16 essays, he discusses Menuhin, Frank Zappa, the Communist Party, literary L.A., anti-Semitism, health care, animal welfare, the founder of the Emmy awards, the birds he and his ex-wife (a member of Zappa’s entourage) have cared for as pets, Israel and Zionism, and California, “home” for much of his life. Not an essential acquisition but appropriate for California libraries and others where nonfiction on life outside the mainstream circulates.” Mary Carroll, Booklist