Friday, May 21, 2010

Obliviously On He Sails and A Heckuva Job

Here's how this works. I read a book or two and tell you about them and try not to get too long-winded, and maybe you'd like to think about reading them as well. This time, a review of Obliviously On He Sails and A Heckuva Job (Random House, 2004 and 2006).

I've raved about Calvin Trillin in these pages before, but what readers of this blog might not know is that his writing, compiled in the omnibus Tummy Trilogy, inspired me to start a food blog with my wife. It's much more interesting than this silly old book review blog. You should bookmark it and tell all your friends.

I'd like more people to know about Trillin. He's much more than just a great food writer, he's one of the most consistently entertaining humorists of the last several decades. When I was last on St. Simons Island, I picked up two of his books of political verse, in which he skewers everything in and around the 2000 and 2004 elections with incredible insight and very playful wit. The pieces range from silly couplets to longer poems set to Gershwin tunes. Obliviously On He Sails (with marks not quite as good as Quayle's) looks at the first election, and A Heckuva Job the second. A third book, Deciding the Next Decider, was released in 2008.

Of course, the really delightful thing about reading these has doing a little research to learn that Trillin has appeared on The Daily Show a few times, giving me something new and fun to watch. I'm very happy with these collections, and love the way that Trillin can bounce around topics so playfully and so honestly. At one point, speculating on the possible existence of a terrorist called "Kahlid the Droll," he supposes that Richard Reid's failed shoe-bombing attempt was one colossal practical joke intended simply to force Americans to shuffle around airports with their shoes off. At the same time, he successfully predicted the 2009 underwear bomber, proving his hypothesis. Highly recommended.

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