- Series: FSG Classics
- Paperback: 232 pages
- Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (May 16, 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0374529744
- ISBN-13: 978-0374529741
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 22 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #351,480 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Remembering Denny (FSG Classics) Paperback – April 28, 2005
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“Fascinating . . . A fine meditation on one life's aborted promise, the crippling burden of anticipated success, and the mysteries of the human heart.” ―Kirkus Reviews
About the Author
Calvin Trillin is the author of more than twenty books, including Family Man (FSG) and Messages from My Father (FSG). He writes a weekly column for Time and a weekly poem for The Nation. He lives in New York City.
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'Remembering Denny' is not a broad brush view of America but focused on people who became or were expected to become movers-n-shakers in business, politics, and academia. They aren't worried about paying their rent or putting food on the table. Their angst is about not measuring up compared to peers. For many it becomes a lifelong burden. Mr. Trillin's work is part introspection, part investigation, and devoid of a climax or real answers. His understated wit is found throughout the book. If you are not paying close attention, you might miss some of his funny remarks. Readers sure won't mistake it for vaudeville material. It is a gentle book that caused me to mull over the topics he covered. The author addresses such things as the expectations of success, sexual orientation, the Rhodes Scholar experience, unspoken insecurities, cliques, anti-Semitism, depression, and sexism. Mr. Trillin does a fine job showing that wealth and prestige come with their own burdens that should not be casually dismissed. Henry David Thoreau was right. The mass of men (and women) lead lives of quiet desperation. It's a melancholy work of real value.
To read this book so many years after it was written, and half a century after the story began, is very touching. Mr. Trillin draws so well the milieu of Yale and the Ivy League in the years he was there (1953-57). Then he researched the history of its subject, Denny, in a painstaking and compassionate way, to track the arc of his life to its end, along with the social forces and personal qualities that drove it. I did keep reflecting that it was a heck of a job to do that research before computers, but the old-fashioned way - phone books and libraries and letters in the mail. But it couldn't have been done any better (faster, maybe!) today.
Very vivid, very moving - beautifully done.
and girls", those A+ magnetic personality types. That's why this memoir grabbed me. Denny Hansen from Redwood City, Cal-
ifornia graduated from Sequoia High School in 1953 having served as student body president and sports star. He was at the
top of his class academically and his beaming, warm smile made him the center of attention. From high school he ascended into
the ivy league orbit of Yale College lighting up that all star campus for the next four years. His friends agreed as one that Denny
would someday become president of the United States. Expectations are high and Denny feels their weight.
Calvin Trillin, classmate and friend, remembers this shooting star before his light went out. The author does an okay job with
his research but disappoints when he too often turns the spotlight away from Denny and onto his own life. What was the point
of an afterward by John Gregory Dunne? Dunne summarizes what I just finished reading. Not necessary except to offer praise for
I was also disappointed with the paucity of information about Denny's family members. Why did he and his brother and his father
-all of his family - not stay in touch. Interviews with them and their friends could have shed light about Denny's later behavior perhaps.
I did not come away really knowing Denny. We know the different ways success is measured in the academic and professional worlds.
But sometimes the essence of a person's worth gets lost. I think Denny's character (kindness, integrity) was not fleshed out in his
days at Yale. Maybe I missed it. I read about his visible accomplishments- his winning a Rhodes scholarship, for example. But his
inner worth -not superficial friendship -which can only be gleaned with personal testimony is missing.
The last point I want to make is that his depression brought about by intense physical back pain made life unbearable. At 57 with
no easing of the pain in sight Denny decides to end his life. Trillin's emphasis on Denny's guilt -and possibly self hatred - for having
homosexual feelings is overdone despite Denny having come out out the repressed 1950's. Denny had taken steps to deal
with this with years of psychoanalysis.
Trillin, a Yale man himself, is obviously a brilliant writer with a long string of successful accomplishments behind him, but he dims
the star's light when he brings his own story front and center.