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Calvin Trillin

Calvin Trillin was born and raised in Kansas City, Missouri, graduated from Yale University in 1957, did a hitch in the Army, and then joinedTime. After a year covering the South from the magazine’s Atlanta bureau, he became a writer for Time in New York.

Trillin has earned acclaim in fields of writing that are remarkably diverse. As someone who has published solidly reported pieces in The New Yorkerfor forty years, he has been called “perhaps the finest reporter in America.” His wry commentary on the American scene and his books chronicling his adventures as a “happy eater” have earned him renown as “a classic American humorist.” His About Alice– a 2007 New York Times best seller that was hailed as “a miniature masterpiece”– followed two other best-selling memoirs, Remembering Denny and Messages From My Father.

From 1967 to 1982, Trillin produced a highly praised series of articles forThe New Yorker called “U. S. Journal,” on subjects that ranged from the murder of a farmer’s wife in Iowa to the author’s effort to write the definitive history of a Louisiana restaurant called Didee’s “or to eat an awful lot of baked duck and dirty rice trying.” Some of the murder stories from that series were published in 1984 as Killings, a book that was described by William Geist in The New York Times Book Review as “that rarity, reportage as art.”

From 1978 through 1985, Trillin was a columnist for The Nation, writing what USA Today called “simply the funniest regular column in journalism.” From 1986 through 1995, the column was syndicated to newspapers. From 1996 to 2001, Trillin did a column for Time. His columns have been collected in five books.

Since 1990, Trillin has written a piece of comic verse weekly for The Nation. In 2004, he published Obliviously On He Sails: The Bush Administration in Rhyme. A sequel, A Heckuva Job, was published in 2006. Both were New York Times best-sellers.

Trillin’s books have included three comic novels (most recently the national best-seller Tepper Isn’t Going Out), a collection of short stories, a travel book, and an account of the desegregation of the University of Georgia. Three of his antic books on eating– American FriedAlice, Let’s Eat, andThird Helpings– were compiled in 1994 into a single volume called The Tummy Trilogy.

Trillin has often appeared as a guest on television, and he has written and presented two one-man shows at the American Place Theater in New York, both of them critically acclaimed and both sell outs. In reviewing “Words, No Music,” in 1990, The New York Times theater critic Mel Gussow called Trillin “the Buster Keaton of performance humorists.”

Trillin’s most recent book is Deciding the Next Decider: The 2008 Presidential Race in Rhyme. He is a trustee of the New York Public Library, a former trustee of Yale, and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He lives in New York.

Online Resources:

Laura Miller’s interview in Salon
Q & A in Time Magazine
Trillin on the Daily Show with John Stewart
Trillin on Charlie Rose
Trillin in Conversation with Christopher Buckley (video)

Selected Bibliography:

Deciding the Next Decider: The 2008 Presidential Race in Rhyme (Random House 2008)

About Alice (Random House 2006)

Alice, Let’s Eat: Further Adventures of a Happy Eater (Random House 2006)

A Heckuva Job: More of the Bush Administration in Rhyme (Random House 2006)

Feeding a Yen: Savoring Local Specialties, from Kansas City to Cuzco(Random House 2004)

Obliviously On He Sails: The Bush Administration in Rhyme (Random House 2004)

Tepper Isn’t Going Out: A Novel (Random House 2003)

Family Man (Farrar, Straus and Giroux 1999)

Travels with Alice (Farrar, Straus and Giroux 1999)

Messages From My Father: A Memoir (Farrar, Straus and Giroux 1997)

The Tummy Trilogy (Farrar, Straus and Giroux 1994)