Enough’s Enough

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Calvin Trillin is a humorist who knows his limits, and who has carved out an interesting niche for himself in the world of social commentary. While his colleagues are tackling the balance-of-trade figures, the current elections, and foreign policy, Trillin is musing on the significance of the invention of designer garbage bags. Let other commentators put the Noriega situation in perspective; Trillin is more fascinated by the problem of how fifty pounds of tamale flour could possibly be used in voodoo binding rituals. Let other columnists endlessly analyze the state of the man/woman thing; Trillin sees quite clearly that it all boils down to slipcovers and carburetors.

Trillin’s approach to his material is disarmingly simple and homespun. For example, having discovered that in 1990 the Defense Department had stored away thirty billion dollars’ worth of things it didn’t need, Trillin naturally thinks of his own somewhat overstuffed basement, and he immediately feels better. When he learns that two executives of a company “called Waste Management made more than thirteen million dollars apiece in 1987,” he looks back wistfully to a time in his life when he might have begun a career in garbage disposal. When Trillin finds Gorbachev’s picture on the cover of VANITY FAIR, he begins to worry that the world is really changing in some fundamental ways. He is only reassured when his wife Alice reports that Jack Nicholson was on the cover of GQ as usual.

In ENOUGH’S ENOUGH Trillin shows us how to terrorize telemarketers who interrupt our evening meals, how to get back at the people who put those annoying little cards in magazines, how to confuse Soviet intelligence by sending them all our information—every bit of it—and how to put the Millken billions and the proliferation of prenuptial agreements in context. Trillin’s columns don’t solve any of the world’s problems, but they make them momentarily more bearable—and that’s a lot.