cover image American Stories CL

American Stories CL

Calvin Trillin. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH), $19.95 (294pp) ISBN 978-0-395-59367-7

Most of these reports, originally appearing in the New Yorker , take a lengthier and more serious approach than that found in many of Trillin's previous collections ( U.S. Journal ; Travels with Alice ). Frequently he looks at the results of something gone rotten at the core of various American dreams. In a rural Kansas town, after the spouses of a minister and a housewife are killed within months of each other, the romantically entangled survivors are charged with murder (``Rumors Around Town''); in ``I've Got Problems,'' a Nebraska farmer, blaming recent hard times on everyone from local banks to Mossad, is slain when he takes arms against local law enforcers. In a lighter vein, Trillin contrasts the business style of ice-cream entrepreneurs Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield with that of Haagen-Dazs creator Reuben Mattus; he chronicles the collaboration of magicians Penn & Teller, and the newspaper careers of Miami crime reporter Edna Buchanan and the drive-in movie critic known as Joe Bob Briggs. Despite their offbeat topics, these reports are diminished by a certain sameness. (Oct.)