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Calvin Trillin manages to turn the quotidian into books and articles. He’s one of the most skilled practitioners of “literary journalism,” a hybrid that creates journalistic stories that read like short stories—“reportage as art,” as the New York Times once described his writing. Rich in detail, Trillin’s work spares no revealing tidbit, no matter how much it chips away at his subject’s outer armor. The results are terribly human portraits—gossip, essentially, but highbrow gossip that sketches the larger cultural and social context in which his subjects lived. And the portraits are painted in sentences that are clear, spare, and never overly emotional. In his new book, Messages From My Father—as in 1993’s Remembering Denny—Trillin turns his expertise to personal subjects (indeed, the new book covers some of the same ground as Denny, and Trillin even quotes himself from the older book to make certain points). Trillin reads today at 6 p.m. at Chapters, 1512 K St. NW. FREE. (202) 347-5495. (John Cloud)