Family Man

Calvin Trillin

Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1999
ISBN 10: 0374525838 / ISBN 13: 9780374525835
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Synopsis: Calvin Trillin begins his wise and charming ruminations on family by stating the sum total of his child-rearing advice: "Try to get one that doesn't spit up. Otherwise, you're on your own." Suspicious of any child-rearing theories beyond "Your children are either the center of your life or they're not," Trillin has clearly reveled in the role of family man. Acknowledging the special perils to the privacy of people living with a writer who occasionally remarks, "I hope you're not under the impression that what you just said was off the record," Trillin deals with the subject of family in a way that is loving, honest, and wildly funny in Family Man.

Review: "Handing out advice on family matters is not my game," begins Calvin Trillin in Family Man, and indeed, those in search of practical child-rearing tips would be advised to look elsewhere. What Trillin does have to offer is a series of witty meditations on the art--not the science--of parenthood. Nobody else has written quite so accurately about the debunking genius of small children. And while Trillin conveys the joys and sorrows of family life with his customary drollness, what really gets him going is the high anxiety of being in loco parentis. When, for example, a study reveals that most of our synapses are formed during infancy, the author is nonplused by the scientific breakthrough. He's quick, though, to latch on to this new opportunity for self-flagellation:

This business about the synapses struck me as the sort of finding that could have been designed to add to the concerns of those older parents who already spend some uncomfortable time, while trying to fall asleep at night, thinking of ways that they may have shortchanged their children. Here is an entirely new subject, pushing aside old chestnuts like whether that really was the right summer camp or whether the purchase of the guitar might have been to blame for everything that followed. Now, as they toss and turn, they can envision their children trying to compete in a global economy with reduced brainpower.
This beleaguered dad does, it should be said, touch upon a handful of more general topics, including the wacky world of contemporary wedding ceremonies. At the heart of his book, though, is the alternately exasperating and endearing pageant of family life, chez Trillin, which features not only the author's smart-aleck daughters but also his wife and perennial straight (wo)man, Alice.

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Family Man
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication Date: 1999
Binding: Paperback
Book Condition: Used: Good

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Trillin, Calvin
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