"For what do we live, but to make sport for our neighbors and laugh at them in our turn?"
Citizen Reading: 22 May 2017.
1 day ago
"When a man loves a woman"
By Marjorie Kehe
She was bright. She was lovely. She was deeply caring. But most of all, she was Alice. About Alice, Calvin Trillin's moving tribute to his wife of almost 40 years, is a slender volume that packs a hefty punch. Anyone who wants to know what it might be like to love the same person for most of a lifetime has only to pick up this little book to find out.
Of course, that's not to say that Trillin wasn't already on record as a notably doting husband. He tells of a reader who once wrote him to say that she sometimes looked at her boyfriend and wondered, "But will he love me like Calvin loves Alice?"
Throughout Trillin's career as an author and staff writer for the New Yorker, Alice made regular appearances in his writing, often playing the straight man, "the dietitian in sensible shoes," as she put it, to his goofy husband. But the truth, Trillin writes, is that this was a woman with "a child's sense of wonderment ... the only adult I ever knew who might respond to encountering a deer on a forest path by saying, 'Wowsers!' "
Physically, Alice was a beauty. (If you doubt it, flip the book over and check the photo on the back jacket cover.) But in "About Alice," Trillin's focus on the inner charms of the woman he knew: the competent and caring daughter who became the protector of her somewhat feckless parents; the devoted mother who lived the maxim that "your children are either the center of your life or they're not, and the rest is commentary"; and the wife who so inspired her mate that he could say, "I wrote this for Alice. Actually, I wrote everything for Alice."
Although it's impossible to read this book without aching over the depth of Trillin's loss (and it's also difficult to read about the cancer - and the fear thereof - that shadowed so much of Alice's adult life), for the most part this is simply a warm and gentle tale. (Click for more.)