cover image Messages from My Father: A Memoir

Messages from My Father: A Memoir

Calvin Trillin. Farrar, Straus & Giroux Inc, $18 (117pp) ISBN 978-0-374-20860-8

In his recent books Remembering Denny and Deadline Poet, Trillin included affectionate memories of his deceased father, a taciturn, stubbornly honest Kansas City grocer who wrote doggerel and planned for his son to go to Yale. This slim, charming memoir--a good chunk already appeared in the New Yorker--adds to that portrait. Abe Trillin, his son recalls, ""did not make a strong first impression"" on the world at large, but he quietly and wryly communicated bedrock values of modesty and responsibility. Abe eschewed luxury--""[m]y father had a strong sense of enoughness."" He liked to collect Yiddish curses and yellow neckties. And while young Calvin thought his Midwestern youth was as American as possible, he now recognizes the effort of his father, who came to the U.S. from Ukraine at two. The author reflects that he's followed most of his father's messages, ""with just a little light editing."" And, he concludes poignantly, though some might look at Abe Trillin's life and deem him unfulfilled, ""I'd like to believe that he thought more in terms of... a sense of continuity."" Photos not seen by PW. Author tour. (June)