Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “About Alice” as Want to Read:
About Alice
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

About Alice

really liked it 4.00  ·  Rating details ·  6,015 ratings  ·  711 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)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about About Alice, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about About Alice

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
really liked it 4.00  · 
Rating details
 ·  6,015 ratings  ·  711 reviews

Sort order
May 07, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
"We are so lucky."
This is a heartwarming paean of love and gratitude to his wife, who had died five years earlier.
It's not sad or depressing, it is an uplifting and inspirational celebration of her as wife, mother, and very much as her own wonderful self.
Count your blessings and enjoy everything, I think that's the message.
Aug 13, 2007 rated it really liked it
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
Jul 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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.
Jun 15, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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."

Jul 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Oct 29, 2007 rated it it was ok
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
Jan 12, 2014 rated it it was ok
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
Dec 28, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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, 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
Sep 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 08, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Mar 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Oct 29, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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?'"
Jul 09, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: memoir-biography
Since I was unfamiliar with the author and his wife, this book did not resonate with me at all. It’s possible that those who are familiar with the author’s writings may enjoy it. Not me. At first, I liked how much he missed and loved his wife. As the book progressed, I didn’t particularly care for the name dropping and the perfect life – perfect wife, perfect daughters, everyone’s beautiful, Ivy League, you get the idea. I’m sure that there are people like that. In fact, I’ve met a few, but it’s ...more
Jun 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-in-2018
This is an ode written by a man who lost his one true love to cancer. Calvin claimed that he wrote everything for Alice, and you can tell he meant that. The love he felt for her really jumped off the pages, and broke your heart at the end. It was truly a touching read.
May 25, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Jul 17, 2007 rated it really liked it
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
Christine Myres
Jul 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
I love Calvin Trillin. End of story.
Jan 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Overall this was a very satisfying piece. I really like how the author elaborated on how Alice the person differed from Alice the character he had written about - the quote about dietician shoes was excellent. At the same time, I would have preferred that there had been less focus on her physical appearance, but it sounds like she was conscientious about it, so that's probably how she would have wanted it. In reflecting on the book, I'm surprised the author didn't speak more to the feeling of lo ...more
May 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audible
Okay, I am going to admit I was 30 minutes into this book before I realized it wasn't "Still Alice." I kept waiting for her Alzheimer's diagnosis. In spite of that I thoroughly enjoyed his tribute to his late wife, who sounds like a woman I'd like.
Jan 21, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: biography-memoir
This brief book is a tribute to the author's wife, Alice, and is enjoyable and very well-written despite a bit of an assumption on the author's part that the reader has read his columns and books that refer to Alice (which I haven't, but I liked the book anyway).
Perfect. Calvin reads it himself.

I wept, for this funny little man who has made me laugh for years.

I rejoiced that he knew such love.

And I laughed, and listened again.
Apr 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
It seems to me that I should have read Calvin Trillin's other books (like Alice, Let's Eat) before reading About Alice. So I would suggest reading his other work before About Alice, just so you are more familiar with the people talked about in this essay. Other than that it was a lovely ode to a beloved wife and mother. My heart broke at the end. 3.5/5
Feb 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
It might take you 90 minutes to read, but it will renew your faith in love, probably for months. You can see why Trillin's young female readers might ask themselves, "But will he love me like Calvin loves Alice?"
Add in a connection to CUNY and Mina Shaughnessy, and all my NWP colleagues and followers have an extra reason to love this, almost as much as Calvin loves Alice.
Mar 24, 2017 rated it it was ok
I listened to this book and while the story was heart warming it was narrated by the author who didn't have much inflection to his voice. It was only one disc so very short
Mar 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
My only complaint is that it's too short. I listened to the audiobook and was in tears for most of it.
David Ambrose
Aug 22, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Seth Fiegerman
Oct 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 27, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: death, memoir, audio-books
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
Elliot Ratzman
Oct 06, 2011 rated it really liked it
‘“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
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Education of a Gardener
  • King of the Hill: A Memoir
  • Kitchen Literacy: How We Lost Knowledge of Where Food Comes from and Why We Need to Get It Back
  • The Gay Place
  • The Benchley Roundup
  • Day of Honey: A Memoir of Food, Love, and War
  • Much Younger Man
  • Black Tickets: Stories
  • Losing Mum and Pup
  • Years of Grace
  • Foster
  • Them: A Memoir of Parents
  • Apple of My Eye
  • The Inn at Lake Devine
  • The Merry Recluse: A Life in Essays
  • An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination
  • Tales from the Bed
  • There Goes My Social Life: From Clueless to Conservative
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
No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »
“Why in the world are you a Republican?” 9 likes
“understand what Ernest Becker meant when he said something like ‘To live fully is to live with an awareness of the rumble of terror that underlies everything,” 7 likes
More quotes…