cover image If You Can't Say Something Nice

If You Can't Say Something Nice

Calvin Trillin. Ticknor & Fields, $16.95 (257pp) ISBN 978-0-89919-531-5

Trillin's (With All Disrespect, etc.) flair for parodying the mores and foibles of private citizens and public figures alike is showcased in this collection of amusing essays, which first appeared in the Nation and in his syndicated column. Particularly apt are his send-ups on wine snobbery (""It's Coke or Royal Crown with meat, 7-Up or ginger ale with fish, and Dr. Pepper with game''); a specious Oreo cookies promotion claiming that if all the cookies made in the past 75 years were stacked on top of one another, they would go to the moon and back four times (``Would you have to use some kind of glue to hold the cookies together . . . or could you just put an extra smear of cream filling between cookies? What sort of ladder would you stand on?''); and severance pay (``In the world of huge corporations there's nothing more lucrative than being fired well''). The offerings are eclectic: ``If you thought I was above commenting on the Washington Post story that Secretary of State George Schultz may have a tattoo of a tiger on his backside, you overestimated me.'' (October 23)