FAMILY MAN by Calvin Trillin


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Trillin (Messages from My Father, 1996; Too Soon to Tell, 1995; etc.), ace reporter and effortless humorist that he is, turns to a decidedly domestic theme, uxorious and lovingly parental, in the latest of his score of entertaining texts. As it must to all funny men and women, family life becomes the subject of his easy jocularity. Trillin, of course, has written and talked about level-headed wife Alice and their girls many times. Drawing on prior wisdom, he does some light deconstruction of his previous remarks. The usual humorous suspects (pets, schooling, spousal differences, and diapers) are covered nicely with the author’s accustomed aplomb. Advances in baby technology (like Snuglis) are reviewed. Family holiday traditions (like scary Halloween outfits) are recounted. Trillin continues his heroic campaign to replace turkey on the national Thanksgiving menu with spaghetti carbonara. He is a confessed master of Chinese take-out cuisine. There are two Nova Scotias in his world: the smoked- salmon sort and the island, where the Trillins spend their summers. At heart just a lad from Kansas City, he thrives in New York, where, he thinks, about 10 percent of the people walking around Greenwich Village would be stopped by the police if they were in most American cities, and another 10 or 15 percent would at least be interviewed by the local TV news. The two most evident enthusiasms, though, of this Homo domesticus are his daughters, who, happily, share the attributes of every father’s girl: They are the brightest, most comely and clever of creatures. As to what may count in rearing children, “your children are either the center of your life or they’re not, and the rest is commentary.” The commentary is all nimble and easygoing, almost coasting for a clever wordsmith. Though not equal to his finest reportage, Trillin qua Cosby, Bombeck, or Dr. Spock is as good as any in the field. He lives up to the book’s title.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-374-15324-8
Page count: 176pp
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 1998


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