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MESSAGES FROM MY FATHER (UNABRIDGED) Audio, Cassette – Audiobook, July 1, 1996


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Our Kids by Robert D. Putnam
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

"The man was stubborn," writes Calvin Trillin -- the second most stubborn member of the Trillin family -- to begin this memoir of his father. Although he had a strong vision of the sort of person he wanted his son to be, Abe Trillin's explicit advice about how to behave didn't go beyond "You might as well be a mensch." Somehow, though, his messages got through clearly, and Calvin's work is a credit to his father's vision. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

In his recent books Remembering Denny and Deadline Poet, Trillin included affectionate memories of his deceased father, a taciturn, stubbornly honest Kansas City grocer who wrote doggerel and planned for his son to go to Yale. This slim, charming memoir?a good chunk already appeared in the New Yorker?adds to that portrait. Abe Trillin, his son recalls, "did not make a strong first impression" on the world at large, but he quietly and wryly communicated bedrock values of modesty and responsibility. Abe eschewed luxury?"[m]y father had a strong sense of enoughness." He liked to collect Yiddish curses and yellow neckties. And while young Calvin thought his Midwestern youth was as American as possible, he now recognizes the effort of his father, who came to the U.S. from Ukraine at two. The author reflects that he's followed most of his father's messages, "with just a little light editing." And, he concludes poignantly, though some might look at Abe Trillin's life and deem him unfulfilled, "I'd like to believe that he thought more in terms of... a sense of continuity." Photos not seen by PW. Author tour.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Audio Cassette
  • Publisher: Audioworks (July 1, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 067157342X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671573423
  • Product Dimensions: 4.5 x 0.8 x 7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,266,931 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 27 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 29, 1996
Format: Unknown Binding
Calvin Trillin is like a tall glass of iced tea after a hot day. His reporting style, perfected across
the years in the pages of TIME and the NEW YORKER, is unlike any other in the field. A native Kansas
City boy, he gives creedence to the idea of Mid-Western taciturnity, eschewing flowery prose or even artful
structure to simply tell what he has to tell. In the case of his weekly column for TIME, that brevity of
word only makes what he has to say even funnier. For proof, check out his collections (the recent "Too
Soon To Tell") to remember that intelligence, humility and wit usually went hand in hand in the old
days of reportage. Cross Edward R. Murrow with Garrison Keillor, and you've found Trillin. But even he
has developed a beauty of style all his own.
Now he turns his attention to that most painful and mushy of topics, the parent, in his superb new memoir
"Messages From My Father," an observation from a grown son to his deceased patriarch. The memoir business
has been burgeoning lately, with moving evocations of the past produced from such disparate writers as white-
knuckled reporter Pete Hamill (A Drinking Life) to poet Mary Karr (The Liar's Club) but Trillin never calls
attention to a plight or condition, never once opens up his family secrets for triage but instead pulls off
the hat trick of talking about his father and his family while growing up in post-war America without a trace
of false notes or cheap sentiment. Abe Trillin emerges from the book as a decent believer in the American Dream
and its unbiased blessing on all the children of immigrants.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Lynn Harnett VINE VOICE on July 12, 2004
Format: Paperback
Humorist, journalist, food maven, the author of numerous books and a writer for The New Yorker, Trillin brings his blend of self-deprecating humor and thoughtful observation to this affectionate memoir of his father.
Abram Trilinsky emigrated to St. Joseph, Missouri, from Russia at the age of two. When his wife hinted at a trip to Europe, his terse response was, "I've been." He was resolutely a mid-western American, a man who changed his name to Abe Trillin, and at the end of his life exhibitted the only prejudice his son ever observed - an impatience with "refugees," by which he meant people who clung to the language and customs of their country of origin.
He was a stubborn man, like most of his family, described by his wife as "Mules!" "I sometimes imagined my father as swearing off things just to keep in practice," his son observes.
He never swore although he collected colorful curses - "May you have an injury that's not covered by workman's compensation." His honesty was absolute - when a child turned 12 he paid full price at the movies even if he looked 9.
He was unassuming. When Calvin was in high school, his father opened a restaurant and took to wearing yellow ties. "He said something about how most people don't stand out from the crowd, and how it helped to have a sort of signature." This seemed embarrasing to his adolescent son. "What was so great about having someone say, 'Oh, yes, Abe Trillin - the guy with the yellow ties'?" But years later at Abe's funeral, he's touched by how many friends asked for a yellow tie as a remembrance.
His father was not a talker. One of his favorite jokes concerned a Jewish actor who finally gets a real part playing a Jewish father.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 6, 1998
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A fine book for any man to read who is a: beyond forty five years old, b: has sons, c: possibly was brought up Jewish. All or some of the above would enjoy this book. I am reminded of my own father, his triumphs and shortcomings and Calvin's book is a must for any person who wants a quick fun read with interesting messages. I started it, and finished it the same morning! I could not put it down...
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By high_cotton on July 6, 2001
Format: Paperback
The market is flooded these days with memoirs. This little book stands out from the pack. Trillin writes about his father with love, admiration and respect, as well as his famous wit. I recommend this book to any father's son.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By C. Kaye on January 12, 2007
Format: Paperback
Such is Calvin Trillin's caliber of work you don't realize how good he is, and he is really good. This book touched me deeply; Mr. Trillinsky was not an emotional man and given to the touchy feely sort of stuff so espoused these days, but he gave his son everything he would need to have a fulfilling life, one of the main components being a deep, abiding and unconditional love; how lucky Mr. Trillin was.

My father was an evil and stupid man who never learned from his mistakes and is now reaping the whirlwind; I believe Mr. Trillinsky would have I.D.'d him in five minutes flat, and would have had mercy on him, much more than I can manage now. If you are raising a child, or trying to figure out what in God's green earth happened to you during your childhood, read this book. Mr. Trillin's artistry is a delicious extra.

I have read "Remembering Denny" and it has seared a place in my mind since. It explained so much to me. This is another book that is going to go on my mental bookshelf, probably till the end of me.
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