The Man in the Flying Lawn Chair by George Plimpton
And Other Excursions and Observations

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George Plimpton needed no encouragement. If there was a sport to play, a party to throw, a celebrity to amaze, a fireworks display to ignite, Plimpton was front and center hurling the pitch, popping the corks, lighting the fuse. And then, of course, writing about it with incomparable zest and style. His books made him a legend. The Paris Review, the magazine he founded and edited, won him a throne in literary heaven. Somehow, in the midst of his self-generated cyclones, Plimpton managed to toss off dazzling essays, profiles, and New Yorker “Talk of the Town” pieces. This delightful volume collects the very best of Plimpton’s inspired brief “excursions.”
Whether he was escorting Hunter Thompson to the Fear and Loathing movie premiere in New York or tracking down the California man who launched himself into the upper atmosphere with nothing but a lawn chair and a bunch of weather balloons, Plimpton had a rare knack for finding stories where no one else thought to look. Who but Plimpton would turn up in Las Vegas, notebook in hand, for the annual porn movie awards gala?

Among the many gems collected here are accounts of helping Jackie Kennedy plan an unforgettable children’s birthday party, the time he improvised his way through amateur night at Harlem’s famed Apollo Theater, and how he managed to get himself kicked out of Exeter just weeks before graduation.

The grand master of what he called “participatory journalism,” George Plimpton followed his bent and his genius down the most unbelievable rabbit holes–but he always came up smiling. This exemplary, utterly captivating volume is a fitting tribute to one of the great literary lives of our time.

About George Plimpton

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GEORGE PLIMPTON was the originator of “participatory journalism” and was the editor of The Paris Review for fifty years. His books include Paper Lion, Out of My League, The Bogey Man, Open Net, The Curious Case of Sidd Finch, and oral histories of Edie Sedgwick, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., and Truman Capote.
Published September 7, 2004 by Random House. 200 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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The final piece, a brief and wistful “wish list” from 2002, reveals experiences he yearns for: bowling a perfect game, being acknowledged from the stage by Britney Spears, having a memorable moniker like “Joltin’ Joe.” The title essay, one of the best here, ruminates ten years after the bizarre 1...

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The New York Times

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Boy -- known principally for achieving and sustaining erections -- strolls onstage to collect an award for playing a lascivious gargoyle, Plimpton notes that ''he got the kind of admiring, solid applause reserved for a large artillery piece going by in a parade.'' After the ceremony, Plimpton sto...

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The New York Times

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Unfairly, he is not regarded as one of the essential American writers on the subject of failure -- he is not, for instance, considered alongside Frederick Exley of ''A Fan's Notes.'' It may be that Plimpton simply made taking a licking seem too enjoyable, the natural and not at all terrible conse...

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Publishers Weekly

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These tame "excursions" (edited by the author's widow) are a far cry from past Plimpton adventures, where the inventor of "participatory journalism" famously cast himself as a boxer or a circus performer.

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