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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 Observers Paperback – October 27, 2009

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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. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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 --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks; George, Being George edition (October 27, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812974182
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812974188
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.9 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #838,447 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Geoffrey M. Gates on 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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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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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.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
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. It's over 400 pages long, and I have been unable to stop reading it, through phone calls, meals, a Seventh-Day Adventist and the occasional nap. It's really a revelation, the best biographical book I have read in, well, I would have to say years. It takes a new and very fresh approach to following the life of someone you know you would have love to have known.
It's just wonderful.
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