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Messages from My Fatherby Calvin Trillin
Synopses & ReviewsPlease note that used books may not include additional media (study guides, CDs, DVDs, solutions manuals, etc.) as described in the publisher comments.
"The man was stubborn," writes Calvin Trillin — the second most stubborn member of the Trillin family — to begin his fond, wry, and affecting memoir of his father. 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 like "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. Fathers, sons, and admirers of Trillin's unerring sense of the American character will be entertained and touched by this quietly powerful memoir.
"The renowned humorist fashions an affectionate portrait of his father that muses on the elliptical methods by which men raise sons and by which sons strive to please fathers....With characteristic grace and good humor, Trillin crafts a charming, heartfelt memorial to his father that is also a loving demonstration of how deeply he took his father's advice to heart." Kirkus Reviews
"Mr. Trillin not only sees his father clearly from both a child's and an adult's point of view, but he also sees himself through his father's eyes. As a result, he cuts through the complexities of both their lives with a light but assured touch." Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, The New York Times
"A gentle, straightforward book about love for a father is also about the way a father's life and words continue to influence a child's life and words even after the father is gone and the child himself is a father....Abe [Trillin] would be proud." Linton Weeks, The Washington Post
"[A] sensitive, affectionate portrait....For all the consideration that Mr. Trillin shows his family, he plays it a little too safe....[H]e leaves the impression that, a few awkward silences aside, their relationship was a mutual admiration society....Thirty years after his death, Abe Trilinsky...still looms large for his son. In his shadow, Calvin Trillin...remains unfailingly polite." Alex Witchel, The New York Times Book Review
"Calvin Trillin's memoir about his eccentric Jewish Midwestern dad is a delight." USA Today
"Messages from My Father first appeared in The New Yorker, where it reportedly drew more mail than anything else the prolific Trillin has written. No wonder. There are bits of Abe Trillin in everyone's father — everyone, at least, who has known a father's love, been molded by a father's dream, cracked up at a father's antics. It is a measure of Trillin's skill as an essayist that this slim volume is both a detailed portrait of one particular dad and a meditation on American fatherhood that comes close to being universal." Jeff Jacoby, The Boston Globe
"Trillin's tribute to his dad is written with his characteristically sly, understated humor, and it's easy to see where he acquired it....Most of the book has a Thurberesque flavor, a wry appreciation of American eccentricities. It's mild, affectionate humor that doesn't leave any room for the psychological tug-of-war that fills most father memoirs. And for that we can be grateful." L. S. Klepp, Entertainment Weekly
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 the Author
Calvin Trillin, the bestselling author of Remembering Denny and Tepper Isn't Going Out, is a staff writer at The New Yorker and a columnist at Time and The Nation. He was raised in Kansas City, Missouri, and lives in New York City.
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