Calvin Trillin About the Participants
January 13-16, 2000

CALVIN TRILLIN was born in Kansas City in 1935. He graduated from Yale in 1957, did a hitch in the army and then joined Time magazine. In 1963 he became a staff writer for The New Yorker and from 1967 to 1982 produced a highly praised series of articles called "U.S. Journal," 3000 word pieces every three weeks from somewhere in the United States, 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." From 1978 through 1985, Trillin was a columnist for The Nation, writing what USA Today called “simply the funniest regular column in journalism.”

He has been acclaimed in fields of writing that are remarkably diverse. As someone who has published solidly reported pieces in The New Yorker for more than thirty years, he has been called "perhaps the finest reporter in America." His antic commentary on the American scene and his books chronicling his adventures as a "happy eater" have earned him renown as "a classic American humorist." Trillin lectures widely, and has appeared often as a guest on such television programs as “Good Morning America” and “The Today Show” and “The Late Show with David Letterman.” Piece by Piece, his recording of some of his own essays, won an “Audie” as the best humorous audiotape of 1996. 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 the second one, “Words, No Music,” in the fall of 1990, New York Times theater critic Mel Gussow called Trillin “the Buster Keaton of performance humorists.” Trillin lives in New York City. He and his wife, Alice, have two daughters.

  • An Education in Georgia (an account of the experiences of the first two black undergraduates at the University), 1964
  • Barnett Frummer is an Unbloomed Flower (a series of connected short stories), 1969
  • U.S. Journal (a collection from the first years of the New Yorker series), 1971
  • American Fried: Adventures of a Happy Eater, 1974
  • Runestruck (a comic novel about a newsmagazine), 1977
  • Alice, Let’s Eat: Further Adventures of a Happy Eater, 1978
  • Floater (a comic novel about a newsmagazine), 1980
  • Uncivil Liberties (a collection of columns from The Nation), 1982
  • Third Helpings (sequel to American Fried and Alice, Let’s Eat), 1983
  • Killings (a collection of New Yorker pieces concerning sudden death), 1984
  • With All Disrespect (a second collection of columns), 1985
  • If You Can’t Say Something Nice (a collection of columns), 1987
  • Travels With Alice (a book about traveling), 1989
  • Enough’s Enough (a collection of columns), 1990
  • American Stories (a collection of non-fiction pieces from The New Yorker), 1991
  • Remembering Denny (a memoir of the fifties), 1993
  • Deadline Poet: My Life as a Doggerelist), 1994
  • Too Soon To Tell (a collection of columns), 1995
  • Messages from My Father (a Memoir), 1996
  • Family Man (a book about child-rearing and family), 1998