Friday, March 7, 2008

A Suburban Tragedy

I'm sure the prolific writer Calvin Trillin is a familiar name for most of us. He is probably best known for his humorous articles and poems in The Nation and The New Yorker. His many pieces on the joys of food resulted in three books, and these are now combined in a single volume called The Tummy Trilogy – a must read for people who love to eat and love to laugh. He's also written wonderful memoirs, including ones about his father, his late wife Alice, and a touching book called Remembering Denny about a college classmate.

But there's another side to Trillin that I've always admired – he writes about murder. Over the years I've read many of these essays, and they really display his skills as a serious journalist. Years ago some of them were published in a book called Killings. In the March 3rd issue of The New Yorker there's a new one called “The Color of Blood”. The subtitle of the article is “Race, memory and a killing in the suburbs”. In it Trillin describes a 2006 incident on Long Island in which a seventeen-year-old boy is killed. His writing is dispassionate, but I was moved by the descriptions of the effects of this incident on both families and the community itself. In a year when the emergence of an African-American presidential candidate might make you think that we are moving closer to being a color-blind society, this story is reminder of the racial divide that still exists and its tragic consequences. You can read the essay online at

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