Remembering Denny

Remembering Denny

by Calvin Trillin
     
 

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A reissue of Calvin Trillin's memoir of his relationship with a brilliant but tragic Yale classmate that is also a rumination on social change in the 1950s and 1960s

Remembering Denny is perhaps Calvin Trillin's most inspired and powerful book: a memoir of a friendship, a work of investigative reporting, and an exploration of a country and a

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Overview

A reissue of Calvin Trillin's memoir of his relationship with a brilliant but tragic Yale classmate that is also a rumination on social change in the 1950s and 1960s

Remembering Denny is perhaps Calvin Trillin's most inspired and powerful book: a memoir of a friendship, a work of investigative reporting, and an exploration of a country and a time that captures something essential about how America has changed since Trillin—and Denny Hansen—were graduated from Yale in 1957. Roger "Denny" Hansen had seemed then a college hero for the ages: a charmer with a dazzling smile, the subject of a feature in Life magazine, a member of Phi Beta Kappa, a varsity swimmer, a Rhodes scholar...perhaps a future president, as his friends only half-joked. But after early jobs in government and journalism, Hansen's life increasingly took a downward turn and he gradually lost touch with family and old friends before eventually committing suicide—an obscure, embittered, pain-racked professor—in 1991. In contemplating his friend's life, Calvin Trillin considers questions both large and small—what part does the pressure of high expectations place on even the most gifted, how difficult might it have been to be a closeted homosexual in the unyielding world of the 1960s Foreign Service, how much responsibility does the individual bear for all that happens in his life—in a book that is also a meditation on our country's evolving sense of itself.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This collection was on PW 's bestseller list for seven weeks. (Apr.)
Library Journal - Library Journal
In 1957 Denny Hansen had it all--a "dazzling'' smile, a new Yale degree, an appointment as a Rhodes scholar, friends who regarded him practically as an icon, and a boundless future in an era when the sky seemed the limit for bright graduates. In 1991 he became a modern Richard Cory, taking his own life. Trillin, his Yale classmate, tries to determine what went so terribly wrong. However, in his search, we necessarily see so much more of the troubled later years than of the golden years that we ultimately lose sight of the magnitude of the change in Hansen. Expect demand where Trillin's works are popular; also, the public is always morbidly interested in fallen stars. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 12/92.-- Jim Burns, Ottumwa, Ia.
Gilbert Taylor
Normally a satirist, Trillin here takes on a solemn subject: the enigma of suicide, that of his college chum Denny. It develops, from the memorial service in 1991 and a "Big Chill"-like reminiscence session, that none of the deceased's schoolmates--all Yale class of 1957--had any contact with Denny since the early 1970s. By then, smiling Denny worked in the D.C. international-relations industry, where his peers knew him as the grim-faced, irascible Roger D. Hansen, Ph.D. To glean how smiling Denny became Roger, Trillin takes an inspired look at his generation's journey, as represented by Denny's buffetings, from staid fifties society to the unimaginably open sixties. Denny's difficulties in coping were complicated because high expectations had been heaped upon him: Life featured him as the bright hope of a graduating class destined to inherit the earth; his friends teased him as a future president but half-believed it would come true; and he himself could not equably accept being homosexual. Trillin's finely modulated text resonates with his deserved repute as a master of characterization-through-narrative, which is still ultimately stymied by Denny/Roger's self-isolated personality. But, of course, that's the perplexity and pain inflicted on a suicide's survivors--or acquaintances, in Hansen's case. A moving and throught-provoking mix of psychological analysis, sociology, and autobiography.
Michael Dorris
Eloquent, heartfelt�an investigation worthy of Mr. Trillin's intelligence and acuity�.the pages just almost turn themselves.
The New York Times Book Review

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780517157848
Publisher:
Random House Value Publishing, Incorporated
Publication date:
08/28/1995

Meet the Author

Calvin Trillin is the author of twenty books, including Family Man (FSG, 1998) and Messages from My Father (FSG, 1996). He writes a weekly column for Time and a weekly poem for The Nation. He lives in New York City.

Brief Biography

Hometown:
New York, New York
Date of Birth:
December 5, 1935
Place of Birth:
Kansas City, Missouri
Education:
B.A., Yale University, 1957

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