Calvin Trillin is a journalist, humorist and novelist. Best known for his humorous writing about food and eating, he is also the author of several books of fiction, nonfiction essays, comic verse and plenty of more serious journalism.
Trillin was born in Kansas City, Missouri in 1935. He received his BA from Yale University, where he was chair of the Yale Daily News, in 1957. In 1963, after a serving in the U.S. Army and then working at Time magazine for a short time, Trillin joined the staff of The New Yorker magazine, where his reporting on racial integration at the University of Georgia eventually developed into his first book, An Education in Georgia: Charlayne Hunter, Hamilton Holmes and the Integration of the University of Georgia. Trillin's 1967-1982 column "U.S. Journal" for The New Yorker documented events throughout the nation, both funny and serious; since 1984, he has written a series of longer, narrative pieces under the title "American Chronicles."
Trillin is also a longtime contributor to The Nation magazine - is, in fact, the single most prolific contributor to that magazine to date. From 1978-1980 he penned a column called "Variation"; from 1984-1990 another called "Uncivil Liberties"; and from 1990 to the present a weekly one called "Deadline Poem" consisting of humorous poems about current events.
Calvin Trillin's most recent novel is Deciding the Next Decider: The 2008 Presidential Race in Rhyme (Nov. 2008)
Calvin Trillin: Internationally, I think the United States is gonna have to figure out a role for itself as – what sounds like an advertising slogan – “the last remaining superpower”. And obviously it’s not the Cold War anymore. It’s something else, and I don’t think that the United States has quite figured out . . . And I think also the United States is gonna have to figure out how to catch up with other countries not so much economically, but I mean when it comes to just statistics like infant mortality and things . . . literacy. I think that the United States is actually falling behind in a lot of ways, so I think we’re gonna have to figure out how to not be simply the people with the biggest army or the only army when it gets right down to it. I mean I think the United States, last time I read, spends as much money on what’s called “defense”, although not many armies are attacking lately, as everybody else put together. Or pretty close. So I think . . . I think obviously the United States . . . The question of how the United States is going to use its power is still not clear from the days following the Cold War.
Recorded on: 9/5/07