A year or so ago I read “Alice off the page” in the New Yorker, and thought it was the most moving work I’d read in a long time. I passed it on to my brother-in-law, John, who then sent it on to just about everyone else we know. Now it’s been turned into a short book (78 pages). There is a great article on Mr. Trillin, and on his book, in the Observer this week.
I’ve always been fond of Trillin’s work, and Hadley has always loved his articles in the New Yorker. She wants to move to Nova Scotia because of how his describes life on the island (I’m willing to go with her). This article is different, though I’m not quite sure why. There is an aspirational component to it, I’m sure. Calvin Trillin represents potential for the not-so-young man (and I am one of those); attentive, loyal, funny, and not so egotistical to misunderstand what matters in the world.
There are a few stories that have surprised me with my own tears in the past ten or so years; often they involve older men who can’t do what they used to do. This one is different though, as it got to me by bringing out what I should be doing. It gave me hope for my own future, but also a challenge.
The interviews I’ve read say that Mr. Trillin is surprised by the response to this work. Isn’t that just perfect. At our best we do work that resonates in ways we don’t expect. Calvin Trillin sets a top notch example, doesn’t he?