By L.S. Klepp
June 14, 1996 at 04:00 AM EDT

Messages From My Father

B+
type
  • Book
Genre

Fathers have assumed many responsibilities over the years — leading family prayers, breadwinning, watching Monday-night football — but lately a new one has been added: providing material for the son or daughter who is a writer. Calvin Trillin’s tribute to his dad, Abe, is written with his characteristically sly, understated humor, and it’s easy to see where he acquired it. Whenever Abe Trillin met someone who was studying a foreign language, he would ask him or her to translate a simple English sentence: ”The left-handed lizard climbed up the eucalyptus tree and ate a persimmon.” Most of Messages from my Father has a Thurberesque flavor, a wry appreciation of family eccentricities. Its mild, affectionate humor doesn’t leave any room for the psychological tug-of-war that fills most father memoirs. And for that we can be grateful. B+

Messages From My Father

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