Calvin Trillin, the celebrated New Yorker writer, offers a rich and engaging biography of his father, as well as a literate and entertaining fanfare for the common (and decent, and hard-working) man.
Abe Trillin had the western Missouri accent of someone who had grown up in St. Joseph and the dreams of America of someone who had been born is Russia. In Kansas City, he was a grocer, at least until he swore off the grocery business. He was given to swearing off things—coffee, tobacco, alcohol, all neckties that were not yellow in color. Presumably he had also sworn off swearing, although he was a collector of curses, such as "May you have an injury that is not covered by workman's compensation." Although he had a strong vision of the sort of person he wanted his son to be, his explicit advice about how to behave didn't go beyond an almost lackadaisical "You might as well be a mensch." Somehow, though, Abe Trillin's messages got through clearly.
The author's unerring sense of the American character is everywhere apparent in this quietly powerful memoir.