Calvin Trillin, the author of Random House's Deciding the Next Decider: The 2008 Presidential Election in Rhyme, is The Nation's "deadline poet." He has been acclaimed in fields of writing that are remarkably diverse. As someone who has published solidly reported pieces in The New Yorkerfor forty years, he has been called "perhaps the finest reporter in America." His wry commentary on the American scene and his books chronicling his adventures as a "happy eater" have earned him renown as "a classic American humorist." His About Alice—a 2007 New York Times best seller that was hailed as "a miniature masterpiece"—followed two other best-selling memoirs, Remembering Denny and Messages from My Father.
Trillin was born and raised in Kansas City, Missouri, and now lives in New York. He graduated from Yale in 1957, did a hitch in the army, and then joined Time. 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, a book that was described by William Geist in the New York Times Book Review as "that rarity, reportage as art."
From 1978 through 1985, Trillin was a columnist for The Nation, writing what USA Today called "simply the funniest regular column in journalism." From 1986 through 1995, the column was syndicated to newspapers. From 1996 to 2001, Trillin did a column for Time. His columns have been collected in five books.
Since 1990, Trillin has written a piece of comic verse weekly for The Nation. In 2004, he published Obliviously On He Sails: The Bush Administration in Rhyme. A sequel, A Heckuva Job, was published in 2006. Both were New York Times best-sellers.
Trillin's books have included three comic novels (most recently the national best-seller Tepper Isn't Going Out) and a collection of short stories and a travel book and an account of the desegregation of the University of Georgia. Three of his antic books on eating—American Fried, Alice, Let's Eat, andThird Helpings—were compiled in 1994 into a single volume called The Tummy Trilogy.
He lectures widely, and has appeared often as a guest on television. 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 "Words, No Music," in 1990, New York Times theater critic Mel Gussow called Trillin "the Buster Keaton of performance humorists."
Calvin Trillin is a trustee of the New York Public Library, a former trustee of Yale and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
So what was the matter with Kasich?
And what was so bad about Dole?
And why did we sour on poor Gary Bauer
And find naught in Hatch to extol?
So after the excitement fades,
We end up with the norm:
Both candidates are regulars
Who say they're for reform.
(A Gilbert and Sullivan Solo for George W. Bush)
The first son seemed anointed, then
The tide began to ebb.
Did anybody ever ask,
"So could we bring in Jeb?"
In Kennebunk, land of the Bushes,
The men of the cloth all wore tweed.
And one didn't meet any Christians
Like Robertson, Falwell and Reed.
We mutter adieu now to Steve,
Who finally decided to leave.
We thought he might never be done
With buying his place in the sun.
Farewell, adieu to Gary Bauer.
We never thought that you'd be our
Next President. Too small. Too sour.
The countryside we'd have to scour
The Orrin Hatch campaign is done--
Kaput at last, without a doubt.
And now, perhaps, could someone please
Explain what that was all about?
(With apologies, under the table, to Mother Goose)
It seems so familiar to me:
They know one more tank, one more gun'll
Allow best and brightest to see
The light at the end of the tunnel.