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About Alice

3.97 of 5 stars 3.97  ·  rating details  ·  3,876 ratings  ·  559 reviews
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 Al ...more
Hardcover, 96 pages
Published December 26th 2006 by Random House (first published January 1st 2006)
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33rd out of 401 books — 32 voters
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From the Pages of the New Yorker
105th out of 132 books — 36 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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cathy
May 07, 2007 cathy rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone.
Shelves: non-fiction-read
When About Alice first appeared as an essay in The New Yorker last year, I remember missing my train stop because I was so engrossed by Trillin’s eulogy and love letter to his late wife. Trillin opens his heart and home to readers as he chronicles his relationship with Alice from their first chance meeting at a party, to their final good-bye when cancer claimed her life after a 20-year remission. Trillin has written about Alice in other books (which I have not read), and he admits that those por ...more
Steve
Every once in a while we’re reminded that bad things can happen to good people. The good people in this case are Calvin, the writer, and his dearly departed wife, Alice. As you might expect from a loving tribute, pedestals and pathos are intrinsic. The earnest Trillin, smitten to the core, did his best to make her real, but still may have crossed into too-good-to-be-true territory. In a way, I had hoped for as much. Devotion suits him. Other things I’d read made him seem like such a pleasant fel ...more
Ross
What I learned from this book? If you are walking down the street and, against all odds, just happened to get hit on the head with a flower pot, you need to get the flower pot off your head and keep walking.

This is a charming book that I just heard in audio form--read by the author. That is a special treat, I think, for this tribute. Trillin is so funny and loving about his late wife, who I certanily did not know. But I wish I had.
Al
Mar 23, 2008 Al rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone
I read this when it was published in the New Yorker. It is an amazing remembrance of Alice, Calvin Trillin's wife and muse, who died of heart failure in New York City on September 11, 2001. When I saw the book on amazon.com, it said it was expanded. So I'll have to re-read it to see what else he's added.

I've only saved two editions of The New Yorker since I started reading it over 20 years ago. The first was the first post 9/11 edition with the black-on-black Art Spiegelman cover, and the other
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Terzah
Everyone has to define for themselves what it means to live a successful life. If my husband feels the mix of admiration, love and deep sadness when I die that Calvin Trillin reveals feeling on the death of his wife Alice, I will have succeeded in life in one big important way. The love, admiration and sadness are not because he was blind to her quirks or because they never disagreed or because she was always right. That makes this little memoir even better. May we all, as one friend said of her ...more
Leigh
This book was critically acclaimed, and I read it on the recommendations of magazine and newspaper reviewers.

I didn't think it lived up to the acclaim.

The book is a postscript to the author's other writings about his beloved wife, Alice, who passed away last year. Calvin had written about Alice for years; indeed, the vast majority of his work apparently centered around his deep-felt love for this woman.

Only I've never read any of his other writings.

So while this little book was a sweet tribute
...more
Diane
This is a marvelous little book. It's a love letter to Trillin's wife, Alice, who died of heart failure in 2001.

It's filled with funny and touching anecdotes about their life together. My favorite moment is when Alice was convinced she lost her looks because she couldn't get out of a speeding ticket. Trillin tries to convince her that it's really because there's been an influx of gay police officers. "Of course we're all in favor of that," Trillin said, "but it's bound to change the equation."

An
...more
LJ
Jan 12, 2014 LJ rated it 2 of 5 stars
Shelves: memoir
The "Alice" in question in the memoir, About Alice is Alice Trillin, wife and muse of Calvin Trillin, the author of this book. I had never read anything that this famous New Yorker author had written so I was unfamiliar with this woman who is such an important character in some of his other books about his family life. Yes, she was a real-life woman who had a life, raised two girls, was an English professor and the author is heart-broken at her death of cancer in mid-life. It is a terrible trage ...more
YoSafBridg
About Alice is Calvin Trillin's beautiful, loving tribute to his late wife, Alice. After over forty years together he still speaks of her with that true-love light in his voice, as if she could have done no wrong~and those things she did do which differed from him, which perhaps annoyed him, which perhaps they argued about were just those darling little eccentricities that endeared her to him ever the more.

I don't recall reading any of Trillin's New Yorker pieces before though i'm sure i must ha
...more
lia
So Calvin Trillin has been writing stories for the New Yorker for years. I like him in the New Yorker-white guy-smart-funny-older & thus from a simpler era kind of way. He often wrote very lovingly and sweetly and funnily about his wife Alice.

This is a tiny book, around seventy pages or so, talking about Alice, her diagnosis of lung cancer in the seventies and her heart failure in the nineties from the radiation she had received to kill her cancer. It sounds like a downer I guess, and it is
...more
Nomi
A delicious offering to his late wife and their life together, I tried hard to finish Calvin Trillin's book in a single reading and managed to space it out over three days.
It is a compact tome, with chapters representing themes that repeated throughout some 36 years of marriage. There is not one wasted word. As has been my experience with other books by Trillin, his humor made me smile, sometimes through tears. In this entry, it extends to their friends, including Trillin's account of Nora Ephro
...more
Shirley
The lumpy throat started on page 6 (of this very short book, which is article length) when Calvin Trillin was recalling how he got a lot of letters from his readers about Alice, although they had never met her, but knew her only through his writing - like the letter from a young woman who "sometimes looked at her boyfriend and thought, 'But will he love me like Calvin loves Alice?'"
Seth Fiegerman
While The Year of Magical Thinking was mainly about Didion trying to understand her life after her husband's death, About Alice is more about Trillin creating a brief biography of his late wife and trying to understand how he was fortunate enough to share his life with her. For that reason -- and also because Trillin is more of a humor writer by trade -- this is an easier read than Didion's.

Trillin met his wife at a media party in the 60s -- or to put it more accurately, he spotted her at that
...more
David Ambrose
New Yorker staff writer Calvin Trillin is the only author I know who could write an entire novel about something as pedestrian as finding a parking space in New York City (Tepper Isn’t Going Out, Random House, 2002). The magic of Tepper is really in the relationship between the curmudgeony protagonist – who refuses to move his car once he’s found the perfect spot – and his assertive wife, who lovingly tolerates his idiosyncrasies. After reading Trillin’s wonderful memoir About Alice (Random Hous ...more
Carin
This book is incredibly brief and yet it speaks volumes. When the book first came out it got rave reviews and I had many, many people tell me I should read it, but I was reluctant to spend the money on a book so short (thank you, library!)

Mr. Trillin over the years has apparently written a lot about his beloved wife Alice in his books and essays over the years, to the point where many of his readers felt like they knew her and wrote him some very touching letters after her death. Kind of in resp
...more
Elliot Ratzman
‘“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.”’ Couples should read this lovely book out loud to each other. Calvin Trillin is a writer for The New Yorker and who writes the “Deadline Poet” column for The Nation. This is the first book of his I read, after hearing him on NPR. It is short, only 80 pages, an extended eulogy for his wife who died in 2011. Alice Stewart Trillin was ...more
Chad
Calvin Trillin is one of my favorite writers because he is wry and subversive without being furious. If he were to read his books and essays to me, I would expect him to do so with a sidelong glance and a smirk.

(When I heard he had once been repeatedly reprimanded and finally fired from a columnist job for relegating Christian historical events to the hypothetical - "the alleged Crucifixion" for example - I realized I had found a writer to whom I could consistently turn.)

This brief examination o
...more
Amy
About Alice is one of those books which adds a bunch more books to your reading list. I now want to read the rest of Calvin Trillan's books, and his wife Alice's writing also.

To me, this is a love story -- but not in the usual sense of that term. It's true that the romantic, love-at-first-sight, heart-stopping first meeing is described here, but the story goes far beyond that.

Alice and Calvin had a lifetime of love, and although I think we all long for such a thing, we don't often get to read ab
...more
emily
I'd heard of this when it came out, but it seemed far, far too sad to even think about. But then tonight I got home from work, went down to the laundry room to throw in some laundry, and noticed someone had left a new stash of books on the communal shelf and this was among them.

By the rinse cycle, I was weeping in the doorway of my building's laundry room. I came up to my apartment to finish the whole thing, and my clothes are still in the dryer right now. (Yes. This is a short book.)

"About Alic
...more
Meagan
This is a difficult book to review, because it's so very personal. Ostensibly, it's a small book of short essays demonstrating deeper truths about Alice Trillin than had been evident in Calvin Trillin's earlier work. We hear about her incurable optimism, her public service, her love of creature comforts, her devotion to her family. But what this book is really about is one man's immeasurable, clear-eyed love for his wife, and his grief at her loss.

The essays themselves probably won't stick with
...more
Happyreader
This heartfelt tribute to his wife is also fascinating portrait of a cancer survivor. Alice Trillin died on September 11, 2001 from complications of her radiation cancer therapy -- 25 years after the therapy ended.

After reading this, you'll want to read more from Alice herself. If you have access to a good library, check out her New England Journal of Medicine article entitled "Of Dragons and Garden Peas: A Cancer Patient Talks to Doctors" in the March 19, 1981 issue. And if you own the Complete
...more
Kevin Buckley
I fell in love with this woman - Alice - on the bus ride to work yesterday -

I thought about Alice at different junctures of the work day -- this person I had never met, had never even heard about until a friend from the Twitterverse (thanks, Janice!) recommended this author -

I felt fortunate for the introduction, but a little saddened that Alice was no longer in the life of the author.

However, redeemed by this little celebration of her spirit, I now look forward to getting to know Alice throu
...more
Jessica
I haven't read much of Trillin's previous work, so I'm sure this book didn't have the same effect on me that it would have on someone who has come to know Alice through Calvin's words. Trillin was so charming when I heard him on The Diane Rehm Show, though, that I just had to read this book, a 77-page reflection written after the death of his wife. I picked up the book and read it in one sitting, on the floor of the psychology section at Borders. Don't be fooled, though; the beauty of this book ...more
Giovanna
This is apparently a slightly longer version of the aritcle that ran in the New Yorker in 2006. For such a slim edition, it's a remarkably generous book. Trillin lets the reader see--or makes them feel they see--into his love for his wife. I felt like I knew him and Alice all along throughout their life together. Yet the writing is not at all voyeuristic. I wonder at how he could write such a perfect piece. In 78 pages--short ones at that--, Trillin writes in his perfect way: elegant and succinc ...more
bookczuk
This was one of the books I read during the final week of bumma's life. I found a strange comfort in reading others write of their loved ones who had died (also read Christopher Buckley's marvelous book, Losing Mum and Pup and a not so marvelous one by Ruth Reichel on her mom.) Someday I hope to put my bumma stories together in a book as a tribute to a phenomenal woman. Trillin and Alice, and the Buckley clan inspire me to do so.

Alice must have been one heck of a woman. And boy, was she adored.
...more
Audrey
This book is lovely memoir and tribute to Calvin Trillin's one true love and soul mate - Alice. His prose is beautiful without becoming maudlin.

This book has some very humorous passages as the reader would expect from a book written by one of the best known modern day humorists but it also has some of the most heartbreaking passages I've read in a long time.

This is a beautiful and truly wonderful love letter written to his wife Alice, who although left this world to soon also left it a better pl
...more
Stephanie
Listened to the book read by the author (1 hr &18 min) and really like this family--would like to meet her daughters who are about my age. Part of me wishes I had kept the article in Simple Living, to figure out who said this was one of the books that changed their life....it was powerful and with the number of people that are impacted by cancer--I wanted to read more from the author and his late wife Alice...I would love to be written about in such a loving way--honest, funny, and tender al ...more
Lu
Short and sweet. Sweet in the very best sense of the word. I've listened to the audiobook version, read by the author, and it can't be more than 90 minutes.

EVERYBODY should read this, or listen to it.

It's not really a story, and certainly not a biography.

It's a love letter. It's the most beautiful love letter I've ever heard of. If you know me, you know I'm not much into romance. This book is not romantic.

It is the best answer to the question "What is love, anyway?" that I can imagine.

It's so g
...more
Sarah
May 26, 2007 Sarah rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone who is or has a mother, girlfriend or daughter
Shelves: loved
This book is a ode to the author's wife, who died (of heart failure) due to the very treatments that saved her from cancer.
This is a book of romance and storytelling.
I can't quite put into words how much I loved this precious little 75-pager.
Calvin Trillin is a long-time contributer to the New York Times and Magazine. He is a great wordsmith who loved his wife and has managed to communicate this in words, which so often fall short.
Pick this up, pick this up now.
Christine
This is the first book I completed reading after my stroke. I remember the excerpt from The New Yorker and feeling so inspired by his love for his late wife, and so I was completely drawn to this book once it came out. In fact, in both my post-stroke short term memory addled state and this unique draw to the story…I bought TWO copies of the book. A short read (a small book, and less then 80 pages long), but incredibly touching–you’ll want to be Alice.
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Calvin (Bud) Marshall Trillin is an American journalist, humorist, and novelist. He is best known for his humorous writings about food and eating, but he has also written much serious journalism, comic verse, and several books of fiction.

Trillin attended public schools in Kansas City and went on to Yale University, where he served as chairman of the Yale Daily News and became a member of Scroll an
...more
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