Picks and Pans Review: Uncivil Liberties

updated 08/23/1982 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/23/1982 AT 01:00 AM EDT

by Calvin Trillin

These essays are from Trillin's column in the Nation, and so, unlike his Alice, Let's Eat and American Fried, which came out of his New Yorker typewriter, they contain almost no mention of food—except for a piece occasioned by his concern that the people who work in health stores look so unhealthy. Instead, the print media's top deadpan performer ponders such Nation-worthy subjects as how to use taxation as an instrument of public policy by assessing homes with front-lawn flamingos at 800 percent of market value and the way to handle a gasoline crisis (let drivers with even-numbered plates buy gas on even-numbered days, those with odd numbers on odd and those with their names or initials on their plates never). A newly emerging persona, Trillin the Composer, is a C&W natural. Standing in a supermarket checkout line, he wrote It's No Wonder Your Hair's Always in Curlers 'Cause You've Never Been Straight With Me; he may have topped himself when, while watching TV coverage of a Senate hearing, he doodled I Was Your Double-Knit Lover but We're Both Single Again. (Ticknor & Fields, $10.95)

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