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About Alice Hardcover – December 26, 2006


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 78 pages
  • Publisher: Random House; 1 edition (December 26, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400066158
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400066155
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.6 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (82 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #220,971 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Trillin (A Heckuva Job: More of the Bush Administration in Rhyme), a staff writer with the New Yorker since 1963, has often written about the members of his family, notably his wife, Alice, whom he married in 1965. A graduate of Wellesley and Yale, she was a writer and educator who survived a 1976 battle with lung cancer. In 1981, she founded a TV production company, Learning Designs, producing PBS's Behind the Scenes to teach children creative thinking; her book Dear Bruno (1996) was intended to reassure children who had cancer. A weakened heart due to radiation treatments led to her death on September 11, 2001, at age 63. Avoiding expressions of grief, Trillin unveils a straightforward, honest portrait of their marriage and family life in this slim volume, opening with the suggestion that he had previously mischaracterized Alice when he wrote her into "stories that were essentially sitcoms." Looking back on their first encounter, he then focuses on her humor, her beauty, her "child's sense of wonderment," her relationship with her daughters and her concern for others. Trillin's 12-page "Alice, Off the Page" was published earlier this year in the New Yorker, and his expansion of his original essay into this touching tribute is certain to stir emotions. (Jan. 2)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Anyone who has devotedly followed Trillin's decades of writing in the New Yorker about matters contemporary knows intimately Trillin's affection for his wife, Alice, who succumbed to lung cancer in 2001. His readers had grown accustomed to Alice's illuminating presence in Trillin's poetry and prose, and they grieved, if more remotely, almost equally deeply, the loss of the writer's companion, lover, and inspiration. This succinct account of Alice's upbringing, their meeting, their romance, their family, and her career beyond that of Trillin's helpmeet, offers glimpses into a multifaceted character. The optimism Alice radiated reflected that of her father, who kept his family together despite business reverses, and her life bore witness to a profound and encompassing embrace of the meaning of love, which Trillin documents in vivid anecdotes. Consonant with the woman's strength and courage, her unaffected outreach to fellow victims of death-dealing disease sets a worthy standard for tender yet honest compassion. Mark Knoblauch
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Customer Reviews

This is one of the sweetest books I have ever read.
D. Martin
Those who have read Mr. Trillin are familiar with Alice as she has appeared in many of his writings.
Gail Cooke
About Alice is part memoir, part tribute and all love story.
Cynthia K. Robertson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

46 of 48 people found the following review helpful By Gail Cooke HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 9, 2007
Format: Audio CD
I wish I had known her. Some five years after her death, The New Yorker magazine writer par excellence Calvin Trillin has penned a loving, touching portrait of his late wife, Alice Stewart Trillin, whom he married in 1965. Mr. Trillin has claimed that his work is not as good since she died as she used to edit his drafts. That's a bit hard to believe as while I've not read all of his articles and books, I have eagerly consumed several and found "About Alice" to be as impeccably crafted as his earlier works. He's a writer blessed with a goodly share of humor, keen observation, and the ability to make even the most everyday things, such as the quest for a parking space, intriguing.

Those who have read Mr. Trillin are familiar with Alice as she has appeared in many of his writings. We believed we knew her. Not really. As Mr. Trillin once noted in looking over the letters of condolence he received. So many felt that they knew her; a fact he believes she'd deny. She felt he portrayed her as a sort of a dietician in sensible shoes.

In fact, he noted this description of her in a speech he once made and was asked whether or not she was in the audience and if so, would she stand? Stand she did without saying a word, simply waving a very expensive high heeled shoe in the air.

She was, as he describes her, a mother who thought that if you didn't go to every performance of your child's school play, "the county will come and take the child." She was warm, extremely intelligent, and generous, sometimes overlooking the inflation in a repairman's bill with, "He doesn't have a very nice life. And we're so lucky."

They were opposites; for him, it was love at first sight and obviously still is.
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful By E. Bukowsky HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 31, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Calvin Trillin's heartfelt, touching, and occasionally humorous tribute is an expanded essay about his affection for and appreciation of his late wife, Alice. She was a stunning blonde who turned heads whenever she entered a room, but she never coasted on her good looks. Alice's integrity, character, marvelous sense of humor, unflagging energy, optimism, and down-to-earth personality made her stand out; she had a unique talent for reaching out to others and making her family, friends, and students feel valued and appreciated. Alice was a skilled listener who dispensed detailed advice, consolation, and genuine sympathy when appropriate; she had a gift for relating to people intimately without being sloppily sentimental. She lent a helping hand to "anyone she loved, or liked, or knew, or didn't quite know but knew someone who did, or didn't know from a hole in the wall," said Nora Ephron. Alice wrote letters--what a lost art letter-writing is!--and her letters were works of art.

Trillin married Alice in 1965 and they enjoyed over thirty-five years together until her death on September 11, 2001. At their first meeting in 1963, Calvin was impressed by Alice's radiance. He never stopped trying to impress his wife and she never failed to impress him. Throughout her career, marriage, and even during her courageous battle with lung cancer and later, heart disease, Alice demonstrated that she was not just a pretty face. She was a enormously gifted, intelligent, and creative woman who was gave of herself unstintingly. She taught college kids, drug addicts in rehab, and prisoners in Sing Sing.
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34 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Peter Thomas Senese - Author. on December 27, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Putting down Calvin Trillin's 'About Alice' one word came to mind: 'Beautiful'. Writing with deep affection that readers will easily connect to, the author demonstrates through action and his writing the unlimitedness of love and the human spirit. I truly enjoyed this book, written by a provocative author whose writing has influenced many of us.
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34 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Verum on December 27, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"About Alice" is Calvin Trillin's love song to Alice, his wife who died far too soon in 2001. Reading Trillin's evocative prose tonight brought laughter and tears. How I wished I had known Alice...
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32 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Gina on January 3, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Read this book and be a voyeur of a marriage that sparkled with wit and love. One of the most beautiful tributes to a wife that has ever been written, told in a style that is smart, funny and provacative. Who better to write this story than the incomparable Calvin Trillan who has a plain spoken and ironic style.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Bookreporter on February 8, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This brief, beautiful book is a tribute to Alice Trillin, the author's wife, who died in New York City after a long battle with cancer on September 11, 2001. In this moving series of essays about Alice's character and person, Calvin Trillin never notes the coincidence of her death with the destruction of the World Trade Center, perhaps understandably reluctant to compare the two events. In fact, he avoids anything mawkish or overly sentimental and makes no overt plays for the reader's sympathy, preferring to let his fond illumination of Alice's life speak for itself.

Trillin has been a prolific writer for a lifetime, and many of his readers already felt a kinship with the woman he admits he sometimes portrayed as a "dietician in sensible shoes." Nobody has skewered family life and travails (traveling, eating, parenting) with as much gentle wit as he has, and given what he calls his "sitcom view" of their life, it's only natural that readers may have a skewed concept of the woman he married in the late 1960s and raised two daughters with. So many of his light, funny articles have featured her as straight man --- a kind of George Burns to his Gracie Allen.

In this book, Trillin fleshes out this adored woman, presenting Alice Stewart Trillin as a teacher, writer, activist and lecturer in her own right. She was straightforward in her views and not afraid to voice her opinion, regardless of the company. "If we'd had the misfortune to live in a milieu that called on me to work my way up in a corporation and on Alice to be the supportive and diplomatic and perfectly behaved corporate wife, I sometimes told her, I would never have emerged from middle management.
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