Best of Plimpton


Featuring such classic pieces as "The Curious Case of Sidd Finch" and "The Plimpton Small-Ball Theory of Sports Writing"--the smaller the ball the better the writing--this is a rich mix of profiles, essays, and articles from a most talented and unique American literary personality. Photographs.

Collects for the first time the work of a distinguished 35 year career, including profiles, essays, articles and "The Amazing Story of Sidd...

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Featuring such classic pieces as "The Curious Case of Sidd Finch" and "The Plimpton Small-Ball Theory of Sports Writing"--the smaller the ball the better the writing--this is a rich mix of profiles, essays, and articles from a most talented and unique American literary personality. Photographs.

Collects for the first time the work of a distinguished 35 year career, including profiles, essays, articles and "The Amazing Story of Sidd Finch."

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Plimpton, the professional amateur, the dashing public hero, is first and best a writer." —The New Yorker

"The Best of Plimpton shows the author to be a quietly adroit stylist with the lightest touch since E.B. White." —Newsweek

"The Best of Plimpton shows how much fun life can be." —The Boston Globe

"This is a terrific book ... pure crystal...unblemished perfection." —The Los Angeles Times

"Beautifully observed and incredibly conceived [George Plimpton's writing] is the dark side of the moon of Walter Mitty." —Ernest Hemingway

"[Plimpton] is a craftsman par excellence, a writer at work. The nature of his work has been a lifelong probe into how to have a good time. This volume is a delightful summation of a seriously eclectic career." —St. Louis Post-Dispatch

"These 35 profiles, essays, articles and speeches remind us that Plimpton has earned his place at the front tables in New York's best-known watering holes.... Throughout, Plimpton's writing is witty, elegant and enormously entertaining." —Playboy

"George Plimpton has a wonderful flair for comic descriptive writing. He has the patience to listen carefully to what others tell him; the imagination to visualize and ask interesting questions; and the persistence to cross-reference the best stories he is told, no matter how much time or travel may be involved. Best of all, he never patronizes, and thus has the power to draw intelligence from a stone." —Christopher Lehmann-Haupt

"Plimpton's writing is so fascinating, not only for sports fans but for students of human behavior as well.... Sincerely inquisitive, a receptive listener, and a fluid funny writer." —People

"George Plimpton shines in simile--his great device also in characterization, and [he has[ an ear for vernacular..." —Marianne Moore

"Plimpton has endless curiosity, unshakeable enthusiasm and nerve, and a deep respect for the world he enters." —The New York Times

Library Journal
Founder of the Paris Review, humorist, adventurer, and contributing editor to Sports Illustrated, Plimpton has selected this anthology of his ``best'' writing from 35 years of work. Its motif is his ``participatory journalism'' and how it has enabled him to render more human and accessible such activities as football, baseball, boxing, golf, music, and fireworks; such personalities as John F. Kennedy, George Bush, Leonard Bernstein, Muhammad Ali, Vince Lombardi, Marianne Moore, and William Styron; and such landmarks as Las Vegas, Palm Desert, and Newport, Rhode Island. The pieces range from ``Fantasy: Sidd Finch'' to ``Parody: Truman Capote as Hemingway.'' Recommended as first-rate belles lettres , to be read in light of Bernstein's description of Plimpton as the ``amateur professional.''-- Kenneth Mintz, formerly with Bayonne P.L., N.J.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780871135032
  • Publisher: Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
  • Publication date: 1/28/1994
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 279,313
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.86 (h) x 1.05 (d)

Meet the Author

George Plimpton
One of the 20th century's most beloved literary figures, Manhattan blueblood George Plimpton was the cofounder and longtime editor of The Paris Review and the originator of "participatory journalism," a literary style that plunged the writer into Walter Mitty-like arenas and translated those experiences into literature. Among his bestselling books are Out of My League, Paper Lion, and Edie: An American Biography.


The scion of New England bluebloods who traced their ancestry back to the Mayflower, affable WASP George Plimpton was one of the 20th century's most beloved literary figures. Raised in Manhattan and educated at Phillips Exeter Academy, Harvard University, and King's College, Cambridge, Plimpton co-founded The Paris Review in 1953 and served as its editor and guiding light for the next half century. Under his stewardship, the journal became a showcase for serious fiction and poetry by new and emerging writers. It also introduced a new style of author interview emphasizing the creative process and the writer's craft. Called by Salman Rushdie "the finest available inquiry into the 'how' of literature," the Paris Review interview remains an integral part of the magazine.

In addition to these highbrow pursuits, Plimpton is also responsible for originating a popular literary genre. Gregarious and adventurous by nature, he followed his intellectual curiosity into Walter Mitty-like arenas, then chronicled his exploits—most of them noble failures—in works that came to be categorized as "participatory journalism." He sparred with heavyweight champ Archie Moore, pitched in an all-star exhibition baseball game, played percussion for the New York Philharmonic, and tried out for the circus. And although he was famous for lighthearted reportage (most notably Paper Lion, his sidesplitting 1966 account of training with the Detroit Lions football team), he proved his literary chops with well-received oral biographies of Edie Sedgwick and Truman Capote.

Instantly recognizable for his tall, lanky frame and upper-crust Brahmin accent, Plimpton was a popular fixture of the Manhattan literary and social scene. Upon his death in September, 2003, The New York Times recalled his "boundless energy and perpetual bonhomie." Five years later, Random House published George, Being George, an affectionate oral biography composed of anecdotes from more than 200 people who knew Plimpton in his many capacities. Editor and longtime Paris Review colleague Nelson Aldrich described the book as a "kind of literary party, George's last."

Good To Know

Like his grandfather and father before him, Plimpton enrolled in the prestigious New Hampshire prep school, Phillips Exeter Academy. He spent most of his time either in detention or on probation, and was finally expelled several months shy of graduation. The family was chagrinned, and Plimpton spent many years trying to atone for his failure. By the way, he graduated right on schedule from Daytona Beach High School!

Plimpton loved athletics, and much of the "participatory journalism" for which he's famous revolves around sports. He wrote books about his less-than-successful exploits in professional baseball (Out of My League), football (Paper Lion; Mad Ducks and Bears), golf (The Bogey Man), and hockey (Open Net).

He also loved fireworks and spent a lot of time with the Grucci family, whose Long Island-based company produced spectacular displays. He chronicled his longtime passion in the 1984 book Fireworks, and Mayor John Lindsay appointed him Fireworks Commissioner of New York, an unofficial title totally unrelated to government.

Plimpton made occasional forays into film, usually as an extra or in cameo appearances as himself.

A longtime friend of the Kennedy clan, Plimpton was with Bobby Kennedy in 1968 when the presidential candidate was assassinated. He also was in Norman Mailer's apartment the night the writer stabbed his wife.

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    1. Date of Birth:
      March 18, 1927
    2. Place of Birth:
      New York, NY
    1. Date of Death:
      September 25, 2003
    2. Place of Death:
      New York, NY
    1. Education:
      B.A. in English Literature, Harvard University, 1950; Master's degree, Cambridge University, 1952

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