Trillin, Calvin

views updated


TRILLIN, CALVIN (1935– ), U.S. journalist, humorist, and novelist. Trillin, who was born in Kansas City, Mo., went to Yale University, where he was chairman of the Yale Daily News. After a stint in the U.S. Army, he worked as a reporter for Time magazine before joining the staff of the New Yorker in 1963, and from 1967 to 1982 he produced a series of articles called "U.S. Journal," 3,000-word articles 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. Trillin's reporting for the New Yorker on the racial integration of the University of Georgia was published in his first book, An Education in Georgia (1964). From 1978 through 1985, Trillin wrote a humor column for The Nation called "Uncivil Liberties." From 1986 he produced a nationally syndicated column under the same name. He won acclaim in remarkably diverse fields of writing, writing about his family; about his adventures in eating (American Fried: Adventures of a Happy Eater, 1974); Barnett Frummer is an Unbloomed Flower (1969), short stories about trendiness in the 1960s; Runestruck (1977), a novel about a small town after the discovery of what could be a Viking artifact; Killings (1984), New Yorker articles on sudden death; Travels with Alice (1989), a book about traveling with his wife, mostly in Europe and the Caribbean; and Deadline Poet: My Life as a Doggerelist (1994). He also wrote and performed two one-man shows, Calvin Trillin's Uncle Sam (1988) and Words, No Music (1990). The most autobiographical of his books is Messages from My Father (1996), a memoir in which he discusses his father's fluency in Yiddish and the experience of growing up Jewish in the Protestant Midwest.

[Stewart Kampel (2nd ed.)]