Stepping into the ring against light-heavyweight champion Archie Moore, George Plimpton pauses to wonder what ever induced him to became a participatory journalist. Bloodied but unbowed, he holds his own in the bout - and brings back this timeless book on boxing and its devotees, among them Ali, Joe Frazier, Ernest Hemingway, and Norman Mailer. Shadow Box is one of Plimpton's most engaging studies of professional sport, through the eyes of an inquisitive and astute amateur. From the gym, the locker room, ...
Stepping into the ring against light-heavyweight champion Archie Moore, George Plimpton pauses to wonder what ever induced him to became a participatory journalist. Bloodied but unbowed, he holds his own in the bout - and brings back this timeless book on boxing and its devotees, among them Ali, Joe Frazier, Ernest Hemingway, and Norman Mailer. Shadow Box is one of Plimpton's most engaging studies of professional sport, through the eyes of an inquisitive and astute amateur. From the gym, the locker room, ringside, and even in the harsh glare of the ring itself, Plimpton documents what it is to be a boxer, an artist of mayhem, in the finest sports writing of his career.
The writer/journalist in the worlds of professional sports. (Oct.)
Initially reviewed in LJ 12/1/68, LJ 11/1/73, LJ 4/1/61, and LJ 9/15/77, respectively, Plimpton's volumes strove to offer the inside world of pro football, baseball, boxing, and golf to the average individual, not through mere observation but by personal participation. All armchair athletes dreaming of glory from the comfort of their recliners will enjoy Plimpton's popular forays into the world of professional sports.
GEORGE PLIMPTON is the editor of the Paris Review and writes regularly for Sports Illustrated, Esquire, and other major magazines. He lives in New York City.
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 exploitsmost of them noble failuresin 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.