About Alice by Calvin Trillin

About Alice

78 pages; Random House
"Now that it's fashionable to reveal intimate details of married life," Calvin Trillin once wrote, "I can state publicly that my wife, Alice, has a weird predilection for limiting our family to three meals a day." About Alice (Random House) is Trillin's paean to the woman who played straight woman to his whimsical narrator: the real life of the muse. The book was written in the raw aftermath of her death in 2001, and though full of Trillin's characteristic light, droll tone, it is deeply moving. On every line, we feel the intensity of Trillin's desire to evoke Alice for the pleasure of her company. She is a woman whose strong social conscience doesn't negate her fondness for very nice shoes, a warmhearted activist who does not shy away from confrontations at dinner parties with, say, people who market cigarettes. In 1976 Alice was diagnosed with lung cancer (she didn't smoke) and given a 10 percent chance of survival. She survived 25 years, long enough to see their daughters grow up and marry. About those years, Trillin imagines Alice, "the incorrigible and ridiculous optimist," declaring: "I'm so lucky!" Readers will feel lucky to have met her in the pages of this book.
— Thomas Beller