On Our Shelves Now
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • A fascinating portrait of journalism and the people who make it, told through pieces collected from the incomparable six-decade career of bestselling author and longtime New Yorker writer Calvin Trillin
“The Lede contains profiles . . . that are acknowledged classics of the form and will be studied until A.I. makes hash out of all of us.”—Dwight Garner, The New York Times
I’ve been writing about the press almost as long as I’ve been in the game. At some point, it occurred to me that disparate pieces from various places in various styles amounted to a picture from multiple angles of what the press has been like over the years since I became a practitioner and an observer.
Calvin Trillin has reported serious pieces across America for The New Yorker, covered the civil rights movement in the South for Time, and written comic verse for The Nation. But one of his favorite subjects over the years—a superb fit for his unique combination of reportage and humor—has been his own professional environment: the American press.
In The Lede, Trillin gathers his incisive, often hilarious writing on reporting, reporters, and their world. There are pieces on a legendary crime reporter in Miami and on an erudite film critic in Dallas who once a week transformed himself from a connoisseur of the French nouvelle vague into a fan of movies like Mother Riley Meets the Vampire. Trillin writes about the paucity of gossip columns in Russia, the icebreaker he'd use if he met one of his subjects socially (e.g.: “You must be wondering why I referred to you in Time as a dork robot”), and the origins of a publication called Beautiful Spot: A Magazine of Parking.
Uniting all of this is Trillin’s signature combination of empathy, humor, and graceful prose. The Lede is an invaluable portrait of one our fundamental American institutions from a master journalist.
About the Author
Calvin Trillin is a long-time staff writer at The New Yorker. He lives in New York City.
“If this book, which gathers together the best and the brightest of the Trillin oeuvre, were a candy sampler, it would be a fistful of peanut butter cups, truffles, and nut wreaths. If it were a vinyl music album, it would carry the ‘greatest hits’ title. Between hard covers, it is simply called an anthology. . . . [The Lede] is a public service because the world seems a little brighter when a reader is reminded of why Trillin is a master craftsman, or when another reader gets to discover Trillin for the first time.”—The Boston Globe
“Calvin Trillin’s newest collection is a reminder that there is no one better working in journalism today—or, as Trillin likes to call it, in ‘the trade’ — than him. . . . His book reminds us not just of his brilliant plying of the trade but also of what the trade once was.”—Los Angeles Times
“In journalism, the ‘lede’ is the introduction to a story, a sentence or paragraph designed to entice readers to continue. For example, the lede in a review of Calvin Trillin’s The Lede might be: Calvin Trillin is an annoyingly good writer. . . . If you knew what I know, you’d run out and buy this book right away, if only to remember what writing is like when it goes past 140 characters.”—Minneapolis Star Tribune
“With wit and understatement, a press veteran reflects on his trade. . . . Trillin’s understatement matters because through it he resolves the traumas of life into humane comedy. . . . This book is buoyant and crunchy from end to end [and] contains profiles . . . that are acknowledged classics of the form and will be studied until A.I. makes hash out of all of us. Trillin can be counted on to hand the world back clearer than it was before he picked it up.”—Dwight Garner, The New York Times
“An invaluable collection of observations about journalism authored by a beloved American reporter and humorist . . . Much of this book is hilarious, and it seems impossible to suppress a grin even when reading essays about the most serious of subjects. A brilliant compilation.”—Kirkus Reviews
“In this collection of short and long pieces culled from more than 50 years of reporting, Trillin presents a clever, wry, piercing, and even poetic love song to journalism and the writers, editors, columnists, and readers who show, with every word, that they are the people’s champions.”—Booklist, starred review
“This entertaining collection . . . showcase[s] Trillin’s intelligence and wit . . . A spirited look at how the news is made.”—Publishers Weekly