20 June 2009

Review: About Alice by Calvin Trillin

In the years before I started blogging, I kept notes about the books I read. Every once in a while I post mini-reviews of books I read in my pre-blogging days. Enjoy.

A few days ago, Natasha at Maw Books Blog asked her readers if books ever made them cry. I blithely answered no and said that I didn't think any book had ever made me cry. I was wrong. There was one book that did make me cry (in fact, sob)—even on my third time through.

It's pretty much impossible to review About Alice. In mundane terms, it is Calvin Trillin's memories of his forty-year marriage to the brilliant, eccentric, and stunning Alice Stewart Trillin. In truth, it is the most personal and emotional love story I have ever read. Although sprinkled with Trillin's characteristic humor, the memoir is beautiful and heartbreaking.

I read this book in print once and in audio twice. I highly recommend listening to Trillin read his tribute—even if you never do audio. If you can get through About Alice without at least welling up, nothing will touch you.

For those of you who don't know, Trillin is a journalist and staff writer at The New Yorker. His humorous and unique look at everyday life, food, and politics is a delight to read.

And what about Alice? Here's what I wrote almost three years ago: "We should all be lucky enough to have had an Alice in our lives."

Published by Random House, 2006
ISBN-13: 9781400066155
Rating: A+


Julie P. 6/20/09, 9:40 AM  

I remember reading this! It is a very touching story!! I don't cry often either when I read books! Usually, there are animals involved! LOL!

farmlanebooks 6/20/09, 10:35 AM  

I've never heard about this book before. I'm going to try to get the audio version now. Thanks!

JoAnn 6/20/09, 11:11 AM  

I'm not familiar with this book either. I'm off to audible to see if it's available.

bermudaonion 6/20/09, 11:42 AM  

I'm not familiar with this book, but I'm sure it would make me sob, too.

stacybuckeye 6/20/09, 11:51 AM  

Wow! Thanks for the recommendation. I'll have to look for the audio.

Diane La Rue 6/20/09, 12:07 PM  

I was a geeky kid who always thought Calvin Trillin was so funny. Not many of my teenage friends even knew who he was. (In case you were wondering, no, I wasn't really popular in high school.)

STILL ALICE was such a moving book, such a tribute to a beloved wife and successful marriage. I cried too, and I agree with all of the people who have told Trillin they gave this book as a wedding gift. What a great idea!

I also liked how Trillin didn't make Alice into a saint. She was a remarkable woman- loving wife and mother, a caring, giving friend-but she was also a human being. She was just better at that than most of us.

Kristi 6/20/09, 1:49 PM  

Oh jeez, I cry at books all the time (Hallmark commercials and long distance commercials around Christmas, too, when I used to watch TV), so I'm sure STILL ALICE would turn me into a wet basketcase. Nonetheless, the book has been on my wishlist for a while now. Sounds like I should give the audio a try except that I usually listen to audio either in the car or on the treadmill at the gym (either of which could be pretty dangerous while sobbing ;o)). Thanks for the great review!

Jenners 6/20/09, 10:24 PM  

I read my first book by Trillin earlier this year (Family Man) and I remember you mentioning this book then. It is one I plan to read ... but perhaps I'll listen instead!

Margot 6/21/09, 8:53 PM  

I agree with you about this book. I love Trillin for his humor and his food writing, but this memorial was beautiful in a different way. Your review is a lovely tribute to his writing and to Alice. I'm going to find this on audio tape. I'd like to hear this in Trillin's own voice. I know I'll cry. That's okay. It adds to the pleasure.

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