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Travels with Alice Paperback – July 23, 1999

12 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Calvin Trillin goes through life one step behind his appetite. He says he's just a Big Hungry Boy from the Midwest, but he's also one of the funniest American writers around, writing a palate pilgrimage through Europe and the Caribbean, where Trillin fantasizes of an Italian West Indies island of Santo Prosciutto "whose steep hills are green with garlic plants." Trillin gives free play to other obsessions (like taureaux piscine), but most of the travels are happily fueled by thoughts of breakfast, lunch, and dinner. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

The humorist explores Europe and the Caribbean with his family, commenting on the events, etiquette and food they encounter. "If he were a stand-up comedian, these essays would be called routines," PW stated. "The peripatetic, insatiably curious Trillin is invariably entertaining."
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 216 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; 1st Farrar, Straus, and Giroux pbk. ed edition (July 23, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374526001
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374526009
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #272,556 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

33 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Susan Butterworth on September 4, 2000
Format: Paperback
This is a gem of the travel narrative genre. Yet it is found under the Humor category in the bookstore. It is wickedly funny. Trillin's enthusiam is a pleasure. The chapter called "Defying Mrs. Tweedie" is worth the price of the entire book. Typical of this book, the chapter is not only original and funny, it is a lyrical description of a travel destination, Taormina, with details of history, scenery, and food. I like Trillin's philosophy of travel, the leisurely approach. The book is full of inside jokes from chapter to chapter, like the I.W.I. (the imaginary Italian West Indies, where the food is superb) and his nickname for his wife Alice, "la principessa." (It improves the service in Italian hotels.) Nice insights on family travel, too. I finished the last chapter, turned the page hoping for another, and groaned when I realized the book was finished.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 30, 1999
Format: Paperback
Trillin's light brand of humor is perfectly suited to his view of travelling with wife and children in tow. A European summer for the Trillin family consists of food (of course), swimming, and finding the best "babyfoot" -- that is, bar football. And how many authors do you know who get their kicks by yelling "tauraux piscine" out the open car window as the Provencal countryside whizzes by? Read it and enjoy.
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14 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Mary G. Longorio VINE VOICE on October 1, 2004
Format: Paperback
Calvin Trillin may want to sound exasperated when he talks about his travels with his wife Alice and his daughters.He can talk all he wants about dispelling the notion that an $800.00 per person customs limit does not mean his family each need to purchase that exact amount of goods before returning home. How McDonald's semingly smell the same though located half a world apart. He may want to sound gruff, but this collection of essays manage to convey his delight in discovering new cusines,comfortable places and kindly people. I suspect half the fun of traveling with Alice, is seeing how far you could push the seemingly intractable Calvin over the edge.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Connie VINE VOICE on August 22, 2007
Format: Paperback
This is my second Trillin book, after Tepper Isn't Going Out Today. I quite enjoyed that book, and when the most recent Alice book came out and was being promoted, I became interested in going back to some of Trillin's earlier works, especially those featuring Alice.

This slight volume was a nice, easy read with family vacation stories fairly universal in this culture. Kids with fussy appetites, parents balancing out "just hanging around" vs "force-feeding culture down the kids' throats", etc etc. Trillin's got a nice wry, easy-going manner that I found comfortable and friendly.

There were times I found myself skimming the overdone descriptions of the food he enjoyed. I get that that's one of Trillin's "things" - he's a foodie. But it's just not all that interesting when described to such the nth degree.

I enjoyed, most of all, passages involving his interactions with his two daughters. Funny and sweet without being cloying or sentimental. If I have one complaint with the book, it's that the titular Alice makes only rare, and not especially interesting, appearances. Trillin seems not that interested in the experiences his wife had on their trips, or in the experiences he shared with his wife on their trips. Very interested in his own deal. Which is fine. But given the title, I had hoped for a bit more in the way of a loving, fun reflection on their shared experiences.

Good book, recommended.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Chris on March 20, 2007
Format: Paperback
After hearing Mr. Trillin speak on a public radio talk show, I thought I'd love to read one of his books, as I found him so amusing. As it turns out, I found this book very boring. I've traveled in many of the countries he mentioned but found his descriptions of food and place uninteresting and found myself skipping over many parts trying to get to something interesting. Little mention was made of Alice. His two daughters played a bigger part in the rendition and it was mostly about Calvin. I don't know if I'd care to try another of his books.
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Format: Paperback
A book of essays by Calvin Trillin is like a box of chocolate truffles - delightful, but don't gobble too many at once. Trillin is always good for a chuckle when writing about food, travel,sports, and family life, and in this book he combines all three through tales of traveling through France, Italy, and the Caribbean with his wife and daughters while searching for the perfect ........ (fill in the blank with native foodstuffs and sporting events.)

I got acquainted with Trillin through his writings in "The New Yorker" magazine, where his wry but approachable humor and unrestrained enthusiasm for all things gastronomic or baseball - related are a breath of fresh air amid the miasmic expositions of urban corruption and worldwide economic disaster. I picked up this book from a remainder table and tried at first to gobble it in big chunks - not so good. The wryness turned sour, the wit turned forced, the enthusiasm became strained.

So I cut back to one a night. The pleasure lasts longer, and the brain doesn't get over-dosed. With that caveat, I recommend this book heartily for your bedside table.
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