Who are we?
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)
Question: What forces have shaped humanity most?
Calvin Trillin: Well obviously at this very moment in history, the forces are religion. I mean among the forces is religion. It gives you some idea of how loony it is to predict the future. If you had asked me in, say, 1960 what’s the future of religion in the United States or in the world, I mean . . . and its influence, not just I, but practically anybody you asked would have said it’s dissipating. It’s . . . In all religions, not just Islam which we knew nothing about really; but in say Christianity. I mean who would think that the Republican presidential contenders would have to pay court to somebody like Pat Robertson who, with Jerry Falwell, agreed that 9/11 took place because God lowered His defensive shield in the United States when He saw what was happening with people from the American way and lesbianism and stuff like that. I mean there aren’t any __________ wackier than that. And who would think that Orthodox Judaism would be the force it is now? I mean it seemed to be disappearing really. So obviously you can’t tell what’s going to happen, and religion is certainly one of the things that has shaped the situation we’re in now.
Recorded on: 9/5/07
Fifty years ago, Trillin would have never thought that religion would become so prominent in American public life.
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