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Thomas Jones: Thomas Pynchon, 8 May 2003

... other people, several webmasters among them, as well as an ex-girlfriend (Chrissie Wexler), George Plimpton and other critics, and, best of the lot, Irwin Corey, the comedian who impersonated Pynchon to collect the National Book Award for Gravity’s Rainbow in 1974. The talking heads are interspersed with archive footage of rockets taking off, or ...


Michael Neve, 18 November 1982

Edie: An American Biography 
by Jean Stein and George Plimpton.
Cape, 455 pp., £9.95, October 1982, 0 224 02068 4
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Baby Driver: A Story About Myself 
by Jan Kerouac.
Deutsch, 208 pp., £7.95, August 1982, 0 233 97487 3
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... a haunted history stretching from 1774 to the present: the author, Jean Stein, and her co-editor, George Plimpton, of the Paris Review, acknowledge the familial dimension by providing a ‘genealogy of principal characters’ near the end of the book. The founding father was Judge Theodore Sedgwick who came to Stockbridge ‘after the Revolution’, and ...

Good Fibs

Andrew O’Hagan: Truman Capote, 2 April 1998

Truman Capote: In which Various Friends, Enemies, Acquaintances and Detractors Recall His Turbulent Career 
by George Plimpton.
Picador, 498 pp., £20, February 1998, 0 330 36871 0
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... with local fevers. And out of those tossings and turnings a strange and clear prosody was born. George Plimpton has tripped on a handy way of telling the story of a life, so long as that life happens to be one like Truman Capote’s. In place of an account shaped by Plimpton’s sentences, what we have is a ...

‘Someone you had to be a bit careful with’

David Sylvester: Gallery Rogues, 30 March 2000

Groovy Bob: The Life and Times of Robert Fraser 
by Harriet Vyner.
Faber, 317 pp., £20, October 1999, 0 571 19627 6
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... Klapheck. Britons: Bacon, Hamilton, Paolozzi, Blake, Harold Cohen, Riley, Caulfield, Gilbert and George. Kasmin’s Americans included Newman, Reinhardt, Stella, Noland, Louis, Frankenthaler, Olitski, Poons; his Britons, Caro, Tucker, Latham, Hill, Hockney, Richard Smith, Bernard Cohen, Denny, Hodgkin, Ayres, Buckley, while his one European was Pol Bury. So ...

Not Enough Delilahs

Andrew O’Hagan: Lillian Ross, 4 July 2019

by Lillian Ross.
NYRB, 219 pp., £14.99, June 2019, 978 1 68137 315 7
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... nobodyNora Ephron – liarOther hand:Kenneth Tynan – creepTruman Capote – leechGeorge Plimpton – slickTom Wolfe – talentlessPhilip Roth – jerkIt was a mercy she only had two hands. To be fair, there were some men she liked. They tended to be showbusiness people. She liked Robin Williams, Charlie Chaplin, Tommy Lee Jones and Al Pacino. She ...

Worst President in History

Eric Foner: Impeaching Andrew Johnson, 24 September 2020

The Impeachers: The Trial of Andrew Johnson and the Dream of a Just Nation 
by Brenda Wineapple.
Ballantine, 592 pp., £12.99, May, 978 0 8129 8791 1
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... Only two of the 43 are black – Frederick Douglass and the restaurateur and political activist George T. Downing. This is a problem, as Reconstruction was a national crisis, not one restricted to the capital. Current scholarship emphasises that grassroots black activism, including public meetings and mass demonstrations throughout the South in favour of ...


Ian Hamilton: Locating the G-Spot, 5 August 1982

... from Warhol’s Factory and is reputed to have gathered an apartment-ful of tapes. For the book, George Plimpton has skilfully juggled all this testimony so that there are smooth narrative links between each slab of talk. Reading it is like eavesdropping: you may not enjoy it, but it’s hard to stop. Rumour has it that Edie has been snubbed by British ...

Boulevard Brogues

Rosemary Hill: Having your grouse and eating it, 13 May 1999

Girlitude: A Memoir of the Fifties and Sixties 
by Emma Tennant.
Cape, 224 pp., £15.99, April 1999, 0 224 05952 1
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... but I was also the butt of many jokes, a preposterous figure – Lady Caroline Top Drawer – in George Melly’s Flook ... Yet I felt none of the cheer of the publicly clownish figure ... I was so clearly in need of something else, something I so clearly failed to find.’ The failure was another consequence of girlitude, for if Tennant looked hard for what ...


John Banville: Exit Zuckerman, 4 October 2007

Exit Ghost 
by Philip Roth.
Cape, 292 pp., £16.99, October 2007, 978 0 224 08173 3
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... style. Towards the end Z/R launches on an extended and entirely irrelevant paean to the memory of George Plimpton, something which, loving though it is, would surely have embarrassed Plimpton himself, and which skews artistically the closing pages. There are also long passages in which Z/R abandons narrative prose and ...

I’m being a singer

Andrew O’Hagan: Dandy Highwaymen, 8 October 2020

Sweet Dreams: The Story of the New Romantics 
by Dylan Jones.
Faber, 663 pp., £20, October 2020, 978 0 571 35343 9
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... were dancing to 1980s pop music and getting excited. A number of drunk men were dressed as St George, wearing England flags and Crusader helmets. Eyes swivelling, pints held aloft, standing on chairs or doing the conga, they were clearly at home in the holiday camp, whose ‘true intent’, it used to say on a neon sign over the swimming pool, ‘is all ...

First Pitch

Frank Kermode: Marianne Moore, 16 April 1998

The Selected Letters of Marianne Moore 
edited by Bonnie Costello and Celeste Goodridge et al.
Faber, 597 pp., £30, April 1998, 0 571 19354 4
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... she celebrated Trollope at a time when nobody read him. Against the current of opinion she admired George Saintsbury, and when she became editor of the Dial commissioned work from this writer, already over eighty and hardly to be thought of as belonging to any avant-garde. Indeed her notion of what was worth having, whether avant-garde or not, was based on ...

They both hated DLT

Andy Beckett: Radio 1, 15 April 1999

The Nation’s Favourite: The True Adventures of Radio 1 
by Simon Garfield.
Faber, 273 pp., £9.99, October 1998, 0 571 19435 4
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... work seeks the purer air of American-style ‘objective’ depiction. The book aspires to follow George Plimpton but, in truth, it is more of a docu-soap. Like all soaps, Garfield’s has a ‘cast of characters’. Their doings become ‘true adventures’, their confrontations staged set-pieces, their thoughts soliloquies. For about two-thirds of the ...

Capital W, Capital W

Michael Wood: Women writers, 19 August 1999

Women Writers at Work 
edited by George Plimpton.
Harvill, 381 pp., £9.99, February 1999, 1 86046 586 2
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Just as I Thought 
by Grace Paley.
Virago, 332 pp., £8.99, August 1999, 1 86049 696 2
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... It is fatal for a woman,’ Virginia Woolf wrote, ‘in any way to speak consciously as a woman.’ Fatal for her as a writer, Woolf meant, but even so, not many people will now agree with this view. Not all that many, perhaps, will understand it straight off. How could it be fatal? How could you not write or speak as a woman if you were one? Except by pretending to speak or write as a man ...

Literary Guy

Ian Jack, 19 June 1986

A North Sea Journey 
by A. Alvarez.
Hodder, 191 pp., £9.95, May 1986, 0 340 37347 4
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... heart and work, anonymously, on a rig for six months – participatory journalism in the style of George Plimpton? Or will he set off by small boat and sail from rig to rig (‘Ahoy there, your muse wishes to come on board’) as the word ‘journey’ in the title might imply? Will there be storms? Will Alvarez come close to the edge of life? Will the ...

Iron Tearing Soil

James Francken: Golf, 4 October 2001

A Gentleman's Game 
by Tom Coyne.
Atlantic, 264 pp., £15, July 2001, 1 903809 05 3
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Riverbank Tweed and Roadmap Jenkins: Tales from the Caddie Yard 
by Bo Links.
Simon and Schuster, 302 pp., £15, May 2001, 0 684 87362 1
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by Michael Griffith.
Arcade, 258 pp., £17, February 2001, 1 55970 536 1
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... for the golfer’s many miseries. In The Bogey Man, a duffer’s guide to the professional tour, George Plimpton hints at the bottled-up woes that undermine golf’s reputation as a staid game played by colourless men: ‘professionals invariably trudge phlegmatically around the course – whatever emotions are seething within – with the grim yet ...

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