Today in Literary History – December 5, 1935 – Calvin Trillin is born

One of my favourite writers, the humourist Calvin “Bud” Trillin was born on December 5, 1935. He is a long-time staff writer for The New Yorker, where he writes both comic pieces, mostly about his food obsessions, as well as serious articles, often focused on criminal trials.

He also wrote a column for The Nation magazine for years. (He consistently referred to The Nation’s editor as “the wily and parsimonious Victor S. Navasky” who paid him “in the high two figures” for his column.) He still writes humorous poems on political subjects for the magazine.

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Alice and Calvin

I am especially fond of Trillin’s “Tummy Trilogy” – American Fried, Alice, Let’s Eat and Third Helpings – in which his family, especially his late wife Alice are vivid characters. Alice died in 2001 and Trillin wrote a slim book, About Alice, that was a tender love letter to her.

Here are some classic Trillinisms:

I never did very well in math – I could never seem to persuade the teacher that I hadn’t meant my answers literally.

The most remarkable thing about my mother is that for thirty years she served the family nothing but leftovers. The original meal has never been found.

I never eat in a restaurant that’s over a hundred feet off the ground and won’t stand still.

Alice’s Law of Compensatory Cash Flow: Money not spent on a luxury one considered even briefly is the equivalent of windfall income and should be spent accordingly.

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