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George, Being George: George Plimpton's Life as Told, Admired, Deplored, and Envied by 200 Friends, Relatives, Lovers, Acquaintances, Rivals--and a Few Unappreciative ... [Kindle Edition]

Nelson W. Aldrich
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)

Kindle Price: $11.84
Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

Norman Mailer said that George Plimpton was the best-loved man in New York. For more than fifty years, his friends made a circle whose circumference was vast and whose center was a fashionable tenement on New York’s East Seventy-second street. Taxi drivers, hearing his address, would ask, “Isn’t that George Plimpton’s place?” George was always giving parties for his friends. It was one of the ways this generous man gave back.

This book is the party that was George’s life–and it’s a big one–attended by scores of people, including Peter Matthiessen, Robert Silvers, Jean Stein, William Styron, Maggie Paley, Gay Talese, Calvin Trillin, and Gore Vidal, as well as lesser-known intimates and acquaintances, each with candid and compelling stories to tell about George Plimpton and childhood rebellion, adult indiscretions, literary tastes, ego trips, loyalties and jealousies, riches and drugs, and embracing life no matter the consequences.

In George, Being George people feel free to say what guests say at parties when the subject of the conversation isn’t around anymore. Some even prove the adage that no best-loved man goes unpunished. Together, they provide a complete portrait of George Plimpton. They talk about his life: its privileged beginnings, its wild and triumphant middle, its brave, sad end. They say that George was a man of many parts: “the last gentleman”; founder and first editor of one of our best literary magazines, The Paris Review; the graceful writer who brought the New Journalism to sports in bestsellers such as Paper Lion, Bogey Man, and Out of My League; and Everyman’s proxy boxer, trapeze artist, stand-up comic, Western movie villain, and Playboy centerfold photographer. And one of the brave men who wrestled Sirhan Sirhan, the armed assassin of his friend Bobby Kennedy, to the ground.

A Plimpton party was full of intelligent, funny, articulate people. So is this one. Many try hard to understand George, and some (not always the ones you would expect) are brilliant at it. Here is social life as it’s actually lived by New York’s elites. The only important difference between a party at George’s and this book is that no one here is drunk. They just talk about being drunk.

George’s last years were awesome, truly so. His greatest gift was to be a blessing to others–not all, sadly–and that gift ended only with his death. But his parties, if this is one, need never end at all.


From the Hardcover edition.


Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. This superb, exuberant oral biography of editor-author-actor Plimpton (1927–2003) is described by Aldrich as a kind of literary party, George's last. As the subtitle makes clear—George Plimpton's Life as Told, Admired, Deplored, and Envied by 200 Friends, Relatives, Lovers, Acquaintances, Rivals—and a Few Unappreciative Observers—this is modeled after the cut-and-paste technique employed in Edie, Plimpton and Jean Stein's book about actress-model Edie Sedgwick. In addition to Plimpton family members, the 200 voices that speak here include David Amram, Harold Bloom, Christopher Cerf, Jules Feiffer, Norman Mailer, Peter Matthiessen, William Styron, Gay Talese and Gore Vidal. The chronological coverage spans Plimpton's life, from his privileged childhood, education at Exeter and Harvard and life in the U.K. at King's College, Cambridge, to his books, movies and legendary parties. His five decades editing the Paris Review and the inner workings of that publication are detailed in depth. When one scans any page at random in this appealing assemblage of anecdotes, it becomes difficult to stop reading. Plimpton's colorful personality emerges in a high-definition prismatic portrait. B&w photos. (Nov. 4)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From The New Yorker

No wonder Philip Roth, in his novel �Exit Ghost,� made an elegiac set-piece of the death, at seventy-six, in 2003, of George Plimpton�the aristocratic, Zelig-like, heron-resembling founder and editor of the Paris Review, fearless amateur jock, inexhaustible after-dinner speaker, and New York treasure. This book resembles �Edie� in its oral-bio form. Its sometimes pitiless honesty (the two wives, though loving, are especially blunt) balances the encomiums and charming anecdotes. Plimpton, a child of privilege, made it his business to be everywhere, to see and do everything. �Marvellous!� was his credo. But, while the book does a good job of following Plimpton as he creates both his magazine and his legend, and struggles to maintain them both, the best of him may be in his highly underrated sportswriting��in �Paper Lion,� �Mad Ducks and Bears,� �The Bogey Man,� and �Shadow Box.�
Copyright ©2008 Click here to subscribe to The New Yorker

Product Details

  • File Size: 3413 KB
  • Print Length: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Random House (October 21, 2008)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B001IAE24Q
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #407,411 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Getting it Right November 5, 2008
Format:Hardcover
Nelson Aldrich, already a noted and perceptive writer, has done a marvellous job of creating this oral history of George Plimpton whom he knew well all his life. There are so many interviews with people who had disparate contacts, opinions, and experiences with George, that his joyful but complicated life really shines through. My wife, my children and I knew him pretty well,in a purely social way; I didn't work for him, didn't go out with him, didn't start a magazine with him and was determinedly just a non-lit pal. Thus,I was so enthralled by the way Aldrich covered the endless facets of George's life, weaving in the fascinating family tensions, the serious writing,the glamorous ladies,the incredible parties, and his more famous sports adventures. There is a wonderful lack of tidy sequence to the book, and that I can tell you was completely George. It's a surprising adventure for someone who wants to know a unique man, set in the cinematic background of New York in the last fifty years.

Geoffrey McNair Gates
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
The reputation of George Plimpton (March 18, 1927 - September 25, 2003) was well-established prior to the publication of this oral biography of him five years after his death. However, dozens of those who knew him best will help others who only knew of him to gain an even better understanding of who and what he was...and wasn't. Credit Nelson Aldrich with a brilliant job of obtaining, organizing, and editing the abundance of material. The book's title could not be more appropriate as a prefix to various personal accounts.

For example:

1. "George, being George," he once talked the Detroit Lions into letting him participate in their pre-season program and was even allowed to play (as QB, of course) in one of the team's scrimmages games.

2. Immediately after Robert Kennedy was shot, he helped to subdue Sirhan Sirhan.

3. Decided that he was uniquely prepared to conduct oral histories of Truman [Capote] and Edie [Sedgwick] and, of course, he did.

4. Agreed to serve as the first editor of The Paris Review that was co-founded in 1952 by Peter Matthiessen, Thomas H. Guinzburg, and Harold L. Humes. He remained in that position until

5. Also pitched against Major League players prior to an All-Star game.

His other adventures and misadventures include sparring with professional boxers Archie Moore and Sugar Ray Robinson, participating in a pre-season scrimmage with the Baltimore Colts action against his previous team, the Lions, briefly playing goalie for the Boston Bruins, competing with an 18 handicap against PGA players such as Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus, losing badly in a tennis match with Richard ("Pancho") Gonzales, and failing in an audition to join the Clyde Beatty-Cole Brothers Circus as an aerialist.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars George Plimpton, A LIFE!!!! December 16, 2008
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
George Plimpton was a guy who lived life to the fullest every day of his life. This book by Nelson Aldrich, using letters and statements from his friends and wife and others clarifys the way he chose to live, bringing The Paris Review to fruition, and following his adventures in the sporting world and beyond. I met him once aboard a transatlantic crossing on the QE2, and thoroughly enjoyed his company and his tales of his life.
This was a page turner for me and highly recommend this book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Engrossing Chatter about a Charming Man December 31, 2008
Format:Hardcover
George Plimpton was the editor of the Paris Review, a droll and self-deprecating sports journalist, a toastmaster supreme, and a prominent but rebellious society figure. In all of these public roles, Plimpton evinced immense class and charm, which GEORGE, BEING GEORGE actually captures best by publishing a few of Plimpton's editorial memos, as well as remarks that he made at the 2001 alumni dinner for Exeter, his prep school. In these documents, Plimpton's amazing voice--graceful, intelligent, tasteful, and funny--is there, on the page. Surely, it is the sensibility animating this voice that made Plimpton a celebrity and a much beloved figure in literary New York.

Readers who want to experience this sensibility might purchase The Paris Review Anthology, which provides highlights from this literary magazine from 1953 to 1987. While Plimpton's written contributions to this anthology are limited to introductions, the authors he spotted and promoted are truly an A-list in American letters. In the section of this book headed 1981-1987, for example, the Paris Review published fiction from such authors as Bass, Boyle, Carver, Gass, McInerney, Minot, Rush, and Simpson. And, it published poems from Ashberry, Brodkey, Brodsky, Galassi, Heaney, and Hustvedt. To spot and/or promote these talents was clearly a great service to people who enjoy literature.

GEORGE, BEING GEORGE also establishes that the Paris Review, while a distinguished literary journal, was chronically short of money. But Plimpton kept the ship afloat through his charm, which helped him secure patrons, as well as generous cash infusions from his own bank account. Once again, thank you George.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars The great raconteur bon vivant
You've got to love George. If you do, you might be inclined to enjoy this very much.
Published 19 days ago by wiremesa
3.0 out of 5 stars mediocre
Mediocre book describing a blue-blood (who added plenty of alcohol to his veins), and who glorified in the mysogenistic '50s and '60s, contributing little besides his name and his... Read more
Published 5 months ago by William Boot
5.0 out of 5 stars What a time it was
Plimpton has always been something of an enigma. For those who have always wanted to more about this man, this book will be a revelation and a delight. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Mary A.
5.0 out of 5 stars A "Marvelous" Biography
George being George is one of those rare books that you want never to end. It is filled with witty anecdotes, about a man with a wide circle of friends of all kinds. Read more
Published on January 17, 2010 by A. Storms
2.0 out of 5 stars cronyism
Who cares? He had it handed to him on a platter. Where's the story when there is no struggle; where's the character? Everyone loved George. Great. Yawn. Read more
Published on April 22, 2009 by M. Smith
4.0 out of 5 stars a man who made the word maverick meaningful
Plimpton was born with a silver spoon in his mouth and proceeded to spit it out and make a fun, fascinating life out of friends, ideas and fireworks
Published on April 3, 2009 by Frank Weil
4.0 out of 5 stars Literary Lion
For those who didn't catch his wave, George Plimpton was, for forty years, the celebratory firework of the New York arts scene. Read more
Published on February 4, 2009 by Lucky Charlie
4.0 out of 5 stars Good book
I thought this book was a fun read. Plimpton was a very interesting man. I'm pretty sure I read one of his amateur-pro books about 20 years ago, probably Paper Lion. Read more
Published on January 2, 2009 by Daniel Holland
3.0 out of 5 stars Curiously George
This book promised so much in that Plimpton lived in interesting times and places, and socialised, worked and lived with interesting people. Read more
Published on December 20, 2008 by Cleo
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