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Messages from My Father: A Memoir
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Messages from My Father: A Memoir

3.86  ·  Rating Details ·  308 Ratings  ·  38 Reviews
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
Paperback, 128 pages
Published June 12th 1997 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published 1996)
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Jean Claudia (Bookish Poetess)
"Children go through life seeing their parents in terms of themselves."

I am disappointed. Messages from My Father is a catchy title for a memoir. I expected tears, sorrows, touchy lines and lessons in life that I can ponder. But I found nothing. Instead, it was full of stories I found nonsense. Or maybe it's just me. But a memoir, in my own understanding and based on the previous memoirs I've read, should be full of stories that can make the readers cry tears or can warm the heart. But I felt no
Mary Finucane
May 09, 2015 Mary Finucane rated it really liked it
Shelves: art-of-fact
Trillin is this year's recipient of the Art of Fact Award. Began this memoir is laugh out loud funny

One thing I love about this local award is that it brings in some well-known writers I have never heard of, or have heard of but haven't read. Trillin is the former.
I'm glad that of his many (many) books, this is the one I started with. It's a beautiful tribute to his father, and is both touching and humorous.

"I understood that my father, who in some ways seemed so Midwestern, had a st
Jefferson County Library
Apr 25, 2016 Jefferson County Library rated it it was amazing
Shelves: lorene
Lorene - Children's and Young Adult Librarian

Calvin Trillin, staff writer for The New Yorker, Time, and The Nation, has written a marvelous little tribute to his father called Messages from My Father. At only 117 pages, including vintage family photos, it’s the kind of book you might even be able to share aloud with your family this Father’s Day.

Trillin’s father, born Abe Trillinsky, came to America at the turn of the last century with his Russian Jewish parents, settling in Missouri and into Mi
Mar 18, 2012 Evelyn rated it really liked it
I've always enjoyed Calvin Trillin's New Yorker articles, for both his plainspoken engaging style as well as his rather American point of view. Messages From My Father offers up more of the same but with a wonderful, additional layer. Unlike so many contemporary memoirs about inept parents and dysfunctional families written by individuals with an ax to grind, Trillin's book is a loving tribute to the parents who raised him and the environment in which he grew up.

It's clear from the very beginnin
Jul 15, 2015 Mimi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Calvin Trillin’s book, “Messages From My Father” is a short but loving tribute to his father whom he admired and respected. I enjoyed the many anecdotes about his father and about his parents’ extended family. I frequently found myself laughing out loud.

However, there was one episode that I particularly related to, something from my own childhood – sharing the backseat of the car with my brother on long car trips throughout the U.S. I especially liked the way he “compared it to the border tensi
Dec 08, 2009 Debbie rated it really liked it
This heartwarming and amusing homage to Calvin Trillin's father made me laugh and made me cry. With so many books published about dysfunctional families and the associated parental blame for missed opportunities and failed lives, it was refreshing to read something that truly honored a loved parent's memory.

I loved Abe, his quirky sense of humor and his stubborn philosophy of life from page one. However, the true beauty of this book is the way that Trillin shows his love of his dad not through
Mar 10, 2011 Jodi rated it really liked it
Shelves: book-group, 2011-read
This is a short, sweet memoir of Calvin Trillan's father Abe. An East European Jew, instead of immigrating to Ellis Island, his ship went to Galveston, TX and that made all the difference. Abe was brought up in St. Joseph, MO and raised Calvin and his sister in Kansas City. Seeing Midwestern Judaism in the years around and following WWII, was very different from the usual stories of the Lower East Side. Calvin is proud of his father and gratefully accepts the inherited traits like stubbornism. I ...more
Linda Spyhalski
Aug 19, 2015 Linda Spyhalski rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-read-2015
A short book of 117 pages that has been on my shelf for sometime. Not sure where I got it but sometimes I pick up a book because of it's location and it setting is St. Joseph, Missouri. My mother spent summers in this area. A very interesting book and I would recommend it to you! The author Calvin Trillin is the author of eighteen previous books, is a staff writer for The New Yorker. He also writes a weekly column for Time and a weekly poem for The Nation. (1996) His father's impact on his life ...more
Aug 28, 2011 Gill rated it really liked it
A terrific book by one of the best memoir writers around. It's a slender volume, but Trillin says a lot more than most in 115 pages. His father was an extraordinary person. I should admit that I've lived much of my life in Kansas City and so I especially enjoyed Trillin's descriptions of the town where he grew up in his parents' house.
Jul 03, 2015 Peg rated it did not like it
I read this book because it will be discussed in one of my book groups. I was disappointed. From the description of the book I was expecting something as humorous as Art Buchwald or Donald Davis (a legendary, humorous storyteller. From a memoir standpoint I was hoping for something as touching as Tuesday's with Morrie.
Mar 21, 2009 Marta rated it it was amazing
I love this book. It's about Trillin's memories of his father and what his father's hopes for him were. He points out that we get messages from our parents but never realize that we may be understanding things differently than they meant it. Also about how his father's experience as an immigrant molded his idea of being American.
Sep 03, 2009 Maggie rated it liked it
This very short memoir regarding Calvin Trillin's father is interesting and sometimes amusing, but doesn't have the wit or or feeling of overwhelming love that Trillin gave to About Alice. I would have liked to know more. There was more to know because his father wrote about many things in his life, but Trillin doesn't mine that information. I think the book suffers for it.
Sep 09, 2009 Kathy added it
Damn, this is a sweet book. Reminded me so much of my own midwestern Dad, and the messages he gave me. Also has funny moments that reminded me of another great dad, Mr. Bernstein in whose house I spent much of my youth. Calvin Trillin is the grandpa of one of Miles' classmates and it's fun to have that connection too.
Mar 30, 2008 Marni rated it it was amazing
A touching and wonderful book, full of love and affection. Beautifully written--I have read it at least twice, and will probably read it again, with pleasure. I particularly love the idea of what messages we receive form our parent's, and I love that Calvin felt his father's message was 'you might as well be a mensch.'
Nancy Hansen
Aug 08, 2014 Nancy Hansen rated it really liked it
I liked it because I found myself thinking about my Dad, who died in 1973. There were hardly any similarities between Abe Trillin and my Dad but I thought a lot about the "messages" that my own father left for me.
Aug 14, 2010 Linda rated it liked it
Recommended to Linda by: Goodwill purchase -
Shelves: own
A memoir of the author's father and the lessons he learned from the man from Kansas City. Even after years living in New York City and making his living through writing, Trillin still has the midwest values instilled by his father.
Dec 27, 2015 Melisa rated it really liked it
I loved this book. It's a quick read. I found it to be very poignant for a relationship that wasn't particularly emotional. I loved hearing about his grandparents' and father's passage through Galveston. I hadn't known about that at all having had family come to the US through the Lower East Side.
Roger Parfitt
May 28, 2012 Roger Parfitt rated it it was amazing
A beautifully understated memoir that emphasizees a fathers long lasting influence on the author. Lots of sentiment and nostalgia for KC in the 60s. Trillin is a great stylist helps that he is very funny.
Sep 03, 2014 Grace rated it really liked it
Just the kind of memoir I like: short and floaty, almost more a collection of essays about memories and events related to a person, rather than a perfectly-executed, coherent book. I think it's one of the nicest ways to pay tribute to a someone.
Jan 20, 2015 Nancy rated it liked it
This a spare and concise memoir by a talented son about the likewise low-key and stoic Midwestern immigrant father who helped shape him. His was an entire generation of men. I enjoyed the references to Kansas City.
Oct 28, 2010 Michelle rated it really liked it
A lovely tribute to his dad and it takes place in neighborhoods I know and love in KC. Love this book.
Sep 23, 2013 Alvin rated it really liked it
It's not easy to pen a delightfully witty and fascinating book about someone who's never done anything extraordinary, but Trillin has done it.
Jul 17, 2011 Clarissa rated it it was ok
Randomly picked this one off my mom's shelf. It was just fine, but I wasn't changed or moved by his recollections of his father--not a must read for me.
Sep 27, 2011 Peter rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir, read-in-2011
As the father of a 2 year old boy, I certainly hope that I have as good a relationship with my son that Calvin Trillin had with his father.
Feb 18, 2008 Leslie rated it really liked it
This is a lovely thin book. If the author had not been an established writer with a loyal following I wonder if it would have been published...
Sweet book, fast read.
Megan Thygeson
Dec 20, 2010 Megan Thygeson is currently reading it
I am reading this in installments to my almost 90 year old mother, Mildred over the phone. We are thoroughly enjoying it.
Deepa rated it it was amazing
Oct 26, 2007
Adrienne rated it really liked it
Sep 13, 2016
Joseph Greaney
Joseph Greaney rated it liked it
Jul 27, 2014
Jim rated it it was amazing
Mar 26, 2012
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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 about Calvin Trillin...

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