Messages From My Father by Calvin Trillin
A Memoir

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Calvin Trillin, the celebrated New Yorker writer, offers a rich and engaging biography of his father, as well as a literate and entertaining fanfare for the common (and decent, and hard-working) man.

Abe Trillin had the western Missouri accent of someone who had grown up in St. Joseph and the dreams of America of someone who had been born is Russia. In Kansas City, he was a grocer, at least until he swore off the grocery business. He was given to swearing off things—coffee, tobacco, alcohol, all neckties that were not yellow in color. Presumably he had also sworn off swearing, although he was a collector of curses, such as "May you have an injury that is not covered by workman's compensation." Although he had a strong vision of the sort of person he wanted his son to be, his explicit advice about how to behave didn't go beyond an almost lackadaisical "You might as well be a mensch." Somehow, though, Abe Trillin's messages got through clearly.

The author's unerring sense of the American character is everywhere apparent in this quietly powerful memoir.

About Calvin Trillin

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Calvin Trillin has been writing for The New Yorker for over 30 years. His many books include Tepper Isn't Going Out, Travels with Alice, Remembering Denny, Family Man, The Tummy Trilogy, Deadline Poet, and Too Soon To Tell.
Published June 12, 1997 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 117 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Travel, Self Help, Education & Reference, Law & Philosophy. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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Of Abe's typically oblique support of writing as a possible vocation, Trillin wryly muses: ``Would that be how you'd steer your son toward journalism--slip the word to him casually when he's three years old and then make sure he knows how to type?'' With characteristic grace and good humor,...

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Publishers Weekly

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In his recent books Remembering Denny and Deadline Poet, Trillin included affectionate memories of his deceased father, a taciturn, stubbornly honest Kansas City grocer who wrote doggerel and planned for his son to go to Yale.

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Entertainment Weekly

Fathers have assumed many responsibilities over the years — leading family prayers, breadwinning, watching Monday-night football — but lately a new one has been added: providing material for the son or daughter who is a writer.

Jun 14 1996 | Read Full Review of Messages From My Father: A Me...


The closest thing to parental abuse this slim book exposes is the elder Trillin's insistence that his son join the Boy Scouts, against the child's will, because that's what true American boys do.

Jul 15 1996 | Read Full Review of Messages From My Father: A Me...

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