As someone who has published solidly reported pieces in The New Yorker for more than 25 years, he has been called “perhaps the finest reporter in America.” His antic commentary on the American scene and his books chronicling his adventures as a “happy eater” have earned him renown as “a classic American humorist.”
In whatever sort of writing he does, Trillin has an unadorned point of view that is deeply rooted in a Midwestern upbringing. He was born and raised in Kansas City, Mo., and he has never stopped writing about his hometown.
He graduated from Yale in 1957, did a hitch in the army, and then joined Time magazine. After a year covering the South from the Atlanta bureau, he became a writer for Time in New York.
In 1963 he became a staff writer for The New Yorker. From 1967 to 1982, he produced a highly praised series of articles for The New Yorker called “U.S. Journal”–3,000 word pieces every three weeks from somewhere in the United States, on subjects that ranged from the murder of a farmer’s wife in Iowa to the author’s effort to write the definitive history of a Louisiana restaurant called Didee’s “or to eat an awful lot of baked duck and dirty rice trying.” Some of the murder stories from that series were published in 1984 as Killings; another collection of Trillin’s reporting for The New Yorker, American stories was published in October 1991.
From 1978 through 1985, Trillin was a columnist for The Nation, writing what USA Today called “simply the funniest regular column in journalism.” Since 1986, the column has been syndicated to newspapers by King Features. It has been collected in four books: Uncivil Liberties, With All Disrespect, If You Can’t Say Something Nice, and, in 1990, Enough’s Enough (And Other Rules of Life).
Trillin’s work has also included two comic novels, a collection of short stories, and, most recently, a weekly offering of comic verse for The Nation.
He travels widely as a speaker, and since 1978 has been a regular guest on the Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. He has written and presented two one man shows at the American Place Theater in New York–both of them critically acclaimed and both sell outs. In reviewing the latest one, Words, No Music, in the fall of 1990, New York Times theater critic Mel Gussow called Trillin “the Buster Keaton of performance humorists.”
Speaker Calvin Trillin does most of his writing from his New York City brownstone, where he lives with his wife, Alice. The couple has two daughters.
Speaker Calvin Trillin
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