Saturday, February 28, 2009

George, Being George

I met George Plimpton once, at the wedding of his sister-in-law, a dear friend of mine. I am sure the meeting was not an occasion that George remembered; it was more a courtesy that the bride extended in introducing me to her sister, George, and their twin daughters. There was a nanny present that day also.

But, I've always been intrigued by the life of George Plimpton and the Paris Review, which he founded.

George died in his sleep in 2003, while I was vacationing in Paris. My thought on reading the news was, "How appropriate that I be in Paris when George dies."

Last year, his widow, Sarah Dudley Plimpton, with input from at least 200 people who shared their lives with George, published the book George, Being George.

When my friend alerted me to the book, I bought it immediately and saved it until now, when I had a bit of extra reading time, to savor it.

And savor it I did. The book touches on events in Plimpton's life from his early school days in 1934 until his death. I love the way it is written, with brief interviews by friends, family, associates, lovers, and just people who knew him. The way it is written sometimes makes me feel like I am there with them. But, other times, especially when I read about his social life in New York City in the 1960s, when I was also there working at IBM, makes me feel like I lived in a total other universe. His lifestyle was so different from mine in the same city.

All the same, George, Being George is a fascinating read, whether you have a personal connection to him or not.

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