Tuesday, February 20, 2007


About Alice by Calvin Trillin

Calvin Trillin's very short but terse book about his late wife, About Alice, is bound to touch even the most impersonal types.

What I mean by this is that although I really am not a reader of Trillin, except for a short excerpt here and there, when I first began the book, I wasn't sure where it would lead me. In truth it is a tribute to his wife--her life and influence. From reading about her, I became found of her as told by Trillin. Certainly readers tend to think that writers and/or their families have often had easy lives and though Alice was "privileged" in the common sense, she certainly didn't have a cake walk as she tended to her parents.

So in this terse book, one can find inspiration to continue his/her life regardless of one's physical condition.

While I was reading the book--it is a very fast read at 78 pages with gracious spacing--I recalled Grief by Andrew Holleran, also a very short novel, and thought the age of the long novel--at least from the book club I belong to--has passed. That is to say, who has the time to sit and read a 900-page novel these days? So many of us are so pressed with work, emails, phone calls, and the like that one is more inclined to buy/read shorter novels than longer ones these days.

Harry Potter perhaps might change a younger generation but the students (ages 18 to 50+) I teach certainly aren't reading much these days. Perhaps if there were more shorter books, they might actually pick up a book and read one. When I look at book sales nationwide, my take on this is not off the mark.

I do love a longer novel, it's just that I don't have the timeframe needed to complete one. In the 19th century, there were fewer distractions and people's lives were less stressed or at least for some, perhaps the literate.

So shorter books seems to be the way to go, I believe, or at least books that one can read quickly.

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