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Messages from My Father

A Memoir

Calvin Trillin


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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, Messages from My Father.

Praise For Messages from My Father: A Memoir

“A sensitive, affectionate portrait . . . Thirty years after his death, Abe Trilinsky, mild-mannered Midwestern grocer, still looms large for his son.” —The New York Times Book Review

“[This] 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.” —The Washington Post

Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 9780374525088, 128pp.

Publication Date: June 12, 1997

About the Author

Calvin Trillin is the author of many books, including Family Man (FSG) and Messages from My Father (FSG). He writes a weekly column for Time and a weekly poem for The Nation. He lives in New York City.