The first book of Calvin Trillin's published after the death of his wife carries the dedication "I wrote this for Alice. Actually, I wrote everything for Alice." About Alice is the longform version of that exactly perfect two-line love letter.
In Calvin Trillin’s antic tales of family life, she was portrayed as the wife who had “a weird predilection for limiting our family to three meals a day” and the mother who thought that if you didn’t go to every performance of your child’s school play, “the county would come and take the child.” Now, five years after her death, her husband offers this loving portrait of Alice Trillin off the page–his loving portrait of Alice Trillin off the page–an educator who was equally at home teaching at a university or a drug treatment center, a gifted writer, a stunningly beautiful and thoroughly engaged woman who, in the words of a friend, “managed to navigate the tricky waters between living a life you could be proud of and still delighting in the many things there are to take pleasure in.”
Though it deals with devastating loss, About Alice is also a love story, chronicling a romance that began at a Manhattan party when Calvin Trillin desperately tried to impress a young woman who “seemed to glow.” “You have never again been as funny as you were that night,” Alice would say, twenty or thirty years later. “You mean I peaked in December of 1963?” “I’m afraid so.”
But he never quit trying to impress her. In his writing, she was sometimes his subject and always his muse. The dedication of the first book he published after her death read, “I wrote this for Alice. Actually, I wrote everything for Alice.”
In that spirit, Calvin Trillin has, with About Alice, created a gift to the wife he adored and to his readers.
About the Author
Calvin Trillin has been a staff writer at The New Yorker since 1963. He lives in New York.