About Alice by Calvin Trillin

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BONUS: This edition contains an excerpt from Calvin Trillin's Quite Enough of Calvin Trillin.

In Calvin Trillin’s antic tales of family life, she was portrayed as the wife who had “a weird predilection for limiting our family to three meals a day” and the mother who thought that if you didn’t go to every performance of your child’s school play, “the county would come and take the child.” Now, five years after her death, her husband offers this loving portrait of Alice Trillin off the page–his loving portrait of Alice Trillin off the page–an educator who was equally at home teaching at a university or a drug treatment center, a gifted writer, a stunningly beautiful and thoroughly engaged woman who, in the words of a friend, “managed to navigate the tricky waters between living a life you could be proud of and still delighting in the many things there are to take pleasure in.”

Though it deals with devastating loss, About Alice is also a love story, chronicling a romance that began at a Manhattan party when Calvin Trillin desperately tried to impress a young woman who “seemed to glow.”
“You have never again been as funny as you were that night,” Alice would say, twenty or thirty years later.
“You mean I peaked in December of 1963?”
“I’m afraid so.”

But he never quit trying to impress her. In his writing, she was sometimes his subject and always his muse. The dedication of the first book he published after her death read, “I wrote this for Alice. Actually, I wrote everything for Alice.”

In that spirit, Calvin Trillin has, with About Alice, created a gift to the wife he adored and to his readers.

About Calvin Trillin

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Calvin Trillin, who became The Nation’s “deadline poet” in 1990, has also written verse on the events of the day for The New Yorker, The New York Times, and National Public Radio. His political beliefs are so colored by rhyme and meter that he once criticized Hillary Clinton for being “insufficiently iambic” and publicly advised against a presidential run by the governor of Illinois, Rod Blagojevich. He is the author of Obliviously on He Sails and A Heckuva Job.From the Hardcover edition.
Published December 26, 2006 by Random House. 96 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Health, Fitness & Dieting, Self Help, Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for About Alice

Kirkus Reviews

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The New Yorker staff writer, with a substantial library of antic texts to his credit (Tepper Isn’t Going Out, 2002, etc.), writes an affecting eulogy to his late wife.

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The New York Times

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His book “Remembering Denny” (1993) unpacks that tightly laced era through the eyes of one of its casualties, Roger Hansen, known as Denny, a Yale golden boy — Life covered his graduation — who committed suicide at 55.

Jan 14 2007 | Read Full Review of About Alice

Book Reporter

This brief, beautiful book is a tribute to Alice Trillin, the author's wife, who died in New York City after a long battle with cancer on September 11, 2001.

Dec 22 2010 | Read Full Review of About Alice

Entertainment Weekly

As he writes, ''People whose exposure to her had been through my stories didn't know her...but they knew how I felt about her.'' Here, Trillin steps aside, allowing Alice to expand beyond the construct of an adored character.

Jan 09 2007 | Read Full Review of About Alice

USA Today

Six hours after leaving the hospital after her cancer recurred, she marched down the aisle at Abigail's wedding.Four months later, at Alice's memorial service, her older daughter, Sarah, said she thought her mother had toughed it out until she was sure "her girls had married the sort of husbands ...

Jan 18 2007 | Read Full Review of About Alice


The Los Angeles Times calls it a "short and sweet elegy," and the New York Times Book Review muses, "Sometimes we come across a piece of first-person writing that shocks us back into a restorative innocence vis-à-vis the human heart."

Jan 26 2007 | Read Full Review of About Alice

Publishers Weekly

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This gently reassuring book, illustrated with whimsical drawings by New Yorker cartoonist Koren, is for children with cancer, their parents and other caretakers.

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Bookmarks Magazine

Sensible, sharp-witted Alice Trillin became such a familiar figure to readers of Calvin Trillin’s books and articles that after her death, strangers wrote to Trillin to express their condolences.

Aug 21 2007 | Read Full Review of About Alice


Coetzee, a sly biography-within-a-novel in which characters tell an interviewer about the John Coetzee they knew when he was a struggling writer.

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"Now that it's fashionable to reveal intimate details of married life," Calvin Trillin once wrote, "I can state publicly that my wife, Alice, has a weird predilection for limiting our family to three meals a day."

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The Kenyon Review

Titled (with terrible but terribly perfect wordplay) “Story of My Wife,” Thompson’s article concludes with a behind-the-scenes look at Trillin’s having come to write “Alice, Off the Page” last winter, at the response it generated when it appeared in March, and at his pleasure in the essay’s book-...

Jan 01 2007 | Read Full Review of About Alice

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