About Alice by Calvin Trillin

Calvin Trillin has been writing for The New Yorker magazine for the last 44 years. Every time you see his byline you are guaranteed a witty, humorous piece, sometimes about family life but touching far and wide in American daily life. Very often he would mention his wife Alice, and in this book we see why.

It is five years now since his wife died and Trillin felt he could write about her and try to talk about his love and also his total dependence on what he calls his “muse”. Although there are funny snatches, this is a deeply sad book. The photograph shows the pair of them, newly married, and Alice is an attractive blonde with a wonderful smile and wise eyes. She wrote a bit herself and also taught at university. They had two daughters, and what Alice cared most about was giving them a good home. Illness struck in l976 when she got lung cancer. She survived until 200l, when she had a bypass operation and died shortly afterward….not however before she got out of bed to attend the wedding of her second daughter.

Although Trillin pictures her as the solid foundation of the whole family, she fought the idea of being a “dietician in sensible shoes” and was known in Greenwich Village, and also Nova Scotia where they spent their summers, as a stunning woman with beautiful clothes. After he met her, he tells us, Trillin spent his whole life trying to impress her, to make her laugh. He says he wrote this book for her, but then adds ” Actually, I wrote everything for Alice”. He has shared a true love story with us.