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Culture and Arts

Culture Watch

by Eileen Frost

In this issue:


Eileen Frost reviews Calvin Trillin's Tepper Isn't Going Out, adding another volume by this funny, perceptive, graceful writer to her Calvin Trillin shelf.'

And Consider This

In the novel When I Lived in Modern Times, young Evelyn Sert embarks on a irresistible voyage from England to the British Mandate of Palestine. Ms. Frost finds the book witty, astute, moving and wise.


Tepper Isn't Going Out
By Calvin Trillin
Random House, 2002

When I was in college in the 60s I began to subscribe to The New Yorker, enticed by cheap student rates and the hope that its sophistication might rub off. Reading it became a weekly addiction, one that I have clung to through thick and thin. It was via his articles in The New Yorker that I first got acquainted with the delightful Calvin Trillin. At home I have a Calvin Trillin shelf, on which sit most of his twenty-or-so books. In short, I am a big fan of this funny, perceptive, graceful writer.

His new novel,Tepper Isn't Going Out, does not disappoint. The hobby of eccentric hero Murray Tepper, a mailing-list broker, is to find parking places in Manhattan neighborhoods where curb space is at a premium. After feeding the meter, he reads the newspaper for an hour or so, a harmless and legal endeavor, but provocative in the extreme to motorists circling the block in quest of a space.

After a while, Tepper begins to acquire not only a following, but notoriety. People seek him out in the belief that he possesses special wisdom. Folks queue up on the sidewalk for consultations in his car. This attracts the attention of the press, and more people come to see Tepper. New York's Mayor Ducavelli, a.k.a. Il Duce, who loathes disorder in any form, is pushed to take "extreme steps" to purge Manhattan of this uproar. Some of the funniest passages involve the mayor, his advisors, and his quest for re-election.

People are continually speculating about why Tepper does it. His son-in-law wonders whether his business is going sour and he's trying "to exert some meaningful control over [his] environment." An old friend asks, "Is it the Dodgers, Murray?" Maybe their departure for Los Angeles kicked Murray over the edge. Letters to the Editor assert that he's upset about high city taxes, or that it is his way of seeking inner peace. I laughed aloud with every new chapter. Hurray for Calvin Trillin. Long may he write!

Review of When I Lived in Modern Times>>


©2002 Eileen Frost for SeniorWomenWeb

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