A reissue of Calvin Trillin's memoir of his relationship with a brilliant but tragic Yale classmate that is also a rumination on social change in the 1950s and 1960s
Remembering Denny is perhaps Calvin Trillin's most inspired and powerful book: a memoir of a friendship, a work of investigative reporting, and an exploration of a country and a time that captures something essential about how America has changed since Trillin--and Denny Hansen--were graduated from Yale in 1957. Roger "Denny" Hansen had seemed then a college hero for the ages: a charmer with a dazzling smile, the subject of a feature in Life magazine, a member of Phi Beta Kappa, a varsity swimmer, a Rhodes scholar...perhaps a future president, as his friends only half-joked. But after early jobs in government and journalism, Hansen's life increasingly took a downward turn and he gradually lost touch with family and old friends before eventually committing suicide--an obscure, embittered, pain-racked professor--in 1991. In contemplating his friend's life, Calvin Trillin considers questions both large and small--what part does the pressure of high expectations place on even the most gifted, how difficult might it have been to be a closeted homosexual in the unyielding world of the 1960s Foreign Service, how much responsibility does the individual bear for all that happens in his life--in a book that is also a meditation on our country's evolving sense of itself.