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Paperback American Stories Book

ISBN: 0395647290

ISBN13: 9780395647295

American Stories

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Real-life stories from around the country

Calvin Trillin has long been a writer of non-fiction pieces for The New Yorker magazine. He was the author of many of the pieces that appeared under the title of "U.S. Journal," - human interest articles from all over the country. Later he authored a longer series entitled "American Chronicles," which was pretty much the same kind of thing, only deeper in scope and with the narrative more fleshed out. This book collects a dozen of those pieces, all written between 1984 and 1991. All of them are fascinating stories, the type of stories, as Trillin writes, "you might tell in front of a fire." Few of his stories captured national attention, or if they did, they rarely did so for long. But on the local level, many were riveting events: the killing of a child molester by a teenager in Oregon, a property dispute between two landowners in Virginia that led to a homicide, the murder of a man in Kansas by a minister who was having an affair with his wife. Legal issues and murder are prominent factors in many of these pieces, but Trillin also writes about less shocking things: the Ben & Jerry ice cream company, the magicians Penn & Teller, and the story of drive-in movie reviewer Joe Bob Briggs (perhaps the best of them all). Trillin writes clearly and directly; his ability to clarify convoluted plot developments (real life unfolds in a bumpy fashion) is most impressive. All of them, indeed, have that wonderful feeling of being told "in front of a fire." Entertaining and informative, it's non-fiction human interest writing at its best.

If I could give it ten stars, I would!

It's criminal that Calvin Trillin's superb "American Stories" is out of print. Trillin gives us a look at, among other things, a drive-in-movie-theatre critic; a crime reporter; an obscure 1950s singing group; an insistent property-rights battle in Virginia; and so much more. Every single one of these stories--while not something you might find yourself hankering to read about, exactly--becomes something utterly fascinating in Trillin's capable hands. Frankly, I think that Calvin Trillin could make lard production an absorbing read.Trillin's inimitably calm, deadpan voice is in fine form here. Just a quick sample, from a piece about a dispute between Pillsbury and Ben & Jerry's ice cream:The campaign started slowly, but eventually thousands of people called the Doughboy Hot Line, and thousands of words appeared in the press about Ben & Jerry's . . . Some of the letters people sent to Pillsbury or Häagen-Dazs were businesslike ("I would like to admonish you to adopt a policy of fair play"), but it was more typical for them to express outrage at "the desire to use the corporate heel to stamp out your competition" or to begin by saying "CORPORATIONS LIKE YOURS REALLY MAKE ME SICK!" A remarkable number of the letters of support received by Ben & Jerry's mentioned the writer's favorite flavor; some of them even mentioned the writer's favorite flavor of Häagen-Dazs. One of them was signed "Helene 'Dastardly Mash' Jones." Some of them were from outraged schoolchildren, who offered to help by, say, forming gangs of Doughboy Busters.This is but a tiny example of the riches available in this most satisfying book. Read it and laugh out loud and enjoy the glittering mosaic of America that Trillin presents here.

Story should be in this book (patdfoss@aol.com)

Can anybody help me find the story Calvin Trillin wrote about the Jenkins (amazing) suicide in Austin Texas, in l988 or l989? it was published in the New Yorker Magazine in the same issue with the review of Woody Allen's Crimes and Misdemeanors. Don't know how else to find this help. If anybody reads this, thank you very much.

A Masterwork of Journalistic Storytelling

In a style that couldn't be more his own, Trillin fascinates his audience with bizzare and distinctly "American" tales of true life. Shocking, moving, and sometimes hilarious, American Stories is a must-read for fans of the short-story genre. One glimpse of this potent recipe of American originality will have the reader espousing more hyperbole than Ross Perot at a revival meeting. Trillin has the unique ability to not only tell the story, but to place the reader in the very real places he's writing about. This volume is a textbook example of how to achieve the delicate balance between passion and observation and it beautifully showcases Trillin's wit, wisdom and quirk.
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