Uncivil Liberties (Magill's Literary Annual 1983)
The short essays reprinted in Uncivil Liberties first appeared as columns in The Nation between April 22, 1977, and October 10, 1981. The topics treated range from politics to social manners to travel abroad to domestic matters. From the very outset, in his tongue-in-cheek introduction, Calvin Trillin adopts the persona of a “folksy” commentator who worries about his salary, his wife’s spelling, and his country’s future. Engaging the reader’s sympathies, he remarks upon the difficulties of a columnist in contemporary America: according to the (Harry) Golden Rule, everything improbable and bizarre upon which a columnist speculates will have already taken place while the article is in press. Trillin mentions a memorable Watergate column by Art Buchwald in which he ostensibly presents a scenario based on the Watergate scandal to a Hollywood producer, but the scenario is rejected as being “too improbable.”
Trillin’s account of the dilemma faced by the columnist focuses on Harry Golden, a resident of North Carolina in the 1950’s, who perceived that white people did not mind standing up with black people even though they objected to sitting down with them. Golden proposed that the schools be integrated by removing all of the chairs. He called his scheme “the Harry Golden Plan for Vertical Integration.” The irony of this amusing dig at the inconsistencies of bigotry is that after Harry Golden proposed a plan for integration,...
(The entire section is 2427 words.)
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 1983)
Library Journal. CVII, May 1, 1982, p. 980.
National Review. XXXIV, May 14, 1982, p. 568.
The New York Times Book Review. LXXXVII, July 4, 1982, p. 2.
The New Yorker. LVIII, June 14, 1982, p. 135.
Publishers Weekly. CCXXI, April 16, 1982, p. 60.
Saturday Review. IX, June, 1982, p. 76.
Time. CXX, July 5, 1982, p. 68.
(The entire section is 39 words.)