April 14, 2006

Alice, Off the Page.

Update: I had to remove the article due to copyright issues. Please email me if you want the article.

I read this wonderful essay, Alice, Off the Page, by Calvin Trillin in memory of his wife Alice, in the New Yorker (March 27). I am not of a particularly sentimental deportment, and it is not often that these kinds of accounts move me. But this is an exception.

I never heard of this Calvin Trillin. And when I came to this article while turning the pages of New Yorker, it was supposed to be just one cursory glance and onto more interesting stuff. But each sentence kept me wanting to read the next, and soon I realized that I was reading something special.

He starts with his wedding in 1965 and takes us through all the important events in their marriage, till her death on 2001. Alice was diagnosed with cancer in 1976, but survived after a surgery and radiation therapy. But since 1976 they lived with the dreaded possibility of a recurrence. The story is about her strong desire to live on the one hand, and her refusal to be drowned in the fear of death on the other. How she managed to preserve every aspect of her personality under immense stress and contributed to a happy home is very impressive.

Of course, there is also the husband. He frankly admits that his whole life was defined by her and his writing career was also inspired by a desire to impress her. The dedication in one of his books reads "I wrote this for Alice. Actually, I wrote everything for Alice." He also says he never really figured out how he could get her.

The essay is amusing at places, inspiring throughout, and most importantly it is touching. It is a bit long, but I have no doubt that it is a highly rewarding read.

Again, you can read it here.


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