Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Calvin Trillin

It's true, I have a celebrity crush on an old man, if you can call Calvin Trillin a celebrity. But there's no argument that he's a brilliant prolific writer whose style is simplistic yet moving. Whether it's fictional stories such as Tepper Isn't Going Out (about a New Yorker who finds a great parking space and refuses to leave his car,) nonfiction stories about his family, or funny poetry about the Bush administration in The Nation; you really can't go wrong with Trillin.

Needless to say, I jumped at the chance to see him read some of his work at The Strand tonight. The third floor was absolutely packed to hear him read about his late wife, Alice. Having read much of his work over the past few years, I had this strange feeling of knowing him, his wife, and his children. This quickly dissipated after hearing him speak in a voice and cadence I never imagined him to have. However, as he began to share stories, I was just as enthralled as I am when reading one of his books.

After he read, the floor was opened for questions. It seemed that I was inspired by my middle school teaching environment...I avoided all opportunity to talk to the man I so admired. Many members of the audience asked deeply personal questions based on the subject matter of the book, such as "How do you find love again after the death of your wife without comparing anyone new to her?"

I wish I had gotten up the courage to ask him how he handled being asked such personal questions by strangers, when the writer's life takes place so much in solitude? What do you do when faced with such an audience, with such a multitude of fans? Instead, I never raised my hand. And I declined to stand in line to have my book personally autographed (I've never been big on autographed copies,) my last opportunity to exchange words with him, and walked out of the bookstore. Maybe I should've struck up a conversation, but I don't really know what sort of small talk I would be able to offer to Calvin Trilin. Especially since most of my thoughts tonight have been "I saw Calvin Trillin. I saw Calvin Trillin. Omigod, I heard Calvin Trillin read his stories."

Maybe next time...

No comments: