Calvin Trillin and Garrison Keillor are each asked to write a rejection letter turning down a literary classic. Keillor rejects Thoreau's "Walden Pond," and suggests turning it into a calendar. Trillin rejects T.S. Eliot's "The Wasteland," in iambic pentameter:
"I know this is a blow, Tom, not to worry:/ You're still the greatest poet from Missouri."
So begins Trillin's humorous piece "T.S. Eliot and Me," one of many entertaining morsels collected over the last 40 years or so from his musings in the New Yorker, the Nation, syndicated columns and his books.
His anecdotes are often wry reminiscences. "Chubby" recalls a childhood dog, though there's some confusion over who had the nickname. Another piece boasts Trillin's editorial triumph of getting paid in the "high two figures" for his newspaper column. There's a funny gag on "attack geckos" and a couple of comic scenes that became part of his hoot of a novel, "Tepper Isn't Going Out," about a guy who becomes a local hero for refusing to give up his parking space
But his poems are the best part of this book. Thirty-five sometimes-caustic light verses take swipes at politicians from Al Gore to President Obama. There's unbeloved Arlen Specter: "kindly as a rent collector"; Mitt Romney: "quick to shed his moderate regalia," may be "lacking genitalia"; and John Boehner: "Others in the party are insaner." Only Colin Powell goes unscathed.