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Monday, March 5, 2012

Quite Enough of Calvin Trillin: Forty Years of Funny Stuff

Quite Enough of Calvin Trillin: Forty Years of Funny Stuff by Calvin Trillin
Published by Random House ISBN978-1400069828
Hardcover $27

I've been reading Calvin Trillin's funny books for a long time, and his ode to his wife Alice, About Alice, is one of the loveliest books about a marriage that you'll ever read. (Many people give this book as a bridal shower gift, and it's great idea.)

So I looked forward to a compilation of his New Yorker columns, his The Nation humorous political poetry and so much more into one book. Some of his best stuff is here, and I chuckled at such comments as:
"Math was my worst subject. I was never able to convince the mathematics teacher that many of my answers were meant ironically."
I always tell my sons to beware of people who scream the loudest about other's moral weaknesses, that they have something to hide, and a Trillin political poem from 2007 that speaks to that reads:
"Once more, for right-wing folks it really rankles                                                                    To see who's caught with pants around his ankles.                                                                Who's next? Who knows?                                                                                                        But some would take the view                                                                                                   That sanctimony is often quite a clue."
Trillin, who grew up in the midwest and still has that sensibility, now lives in New York City, and his comic observations about city life are dead on, including this one:
"I live in Greenwich Village, where people from the suburbs come on weekends to test their car alarms."
His funniest stuff includes his attempts to reason logically with his young daughters and his ongoing arguments with a magazine publisher whom Trillin feels doesn't pay him enough for his work. Alice is  here as well, and her presence is definitely a welcome addition.

This is a book best read in short chunks, and I read it daily while on the treadmill, which was perfect. Some of the earlier political stuff may feel a bit stale, and younger people may not have a clue as to who some of these people are, but they will know George W. Bush, a frequent comic target for Trillin.

Calvin Trillin is one of smartest, funniest writers around, and this is a terrific compilation for his many, many fans.

rating 3.5 of 5

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