George Plimpton, Plimpton!, and My Paper Lion Story

>> 4.18.2011

I’ve been slyly mentioning, here and on Twitter, that I’ve been working on something really, really cool; this is it. Plimpton! is a documentary about the life and work of George Plimpton, currently in post-production. To celebrate that work, the folks behind the film are doing an online book club. Each month, they’re highlighting a specific part of George Plimpton’s body of work, and posting from people who’ve been touched by it. April is Paper Lion’s month.

The first Paper Lion story that went up was by Bill Dow, a writer who’s done a lot of excellent freelance work covering Detroit sports. Dow coordinated the 40th anniversary celebration of Paper Lion at Ford Field, and . . . well, read the article. It’s a powerful story, and gives you a glimpse into how classy, humble, and and gracious a man George Plimpton was.

The second Paper Lion story at the Plimpton! Book Club is my own. Literally, it’s the story of how my parents turned me on to the book (they actually bought me a copy), my thoughts and feelings while reading it, and what it’s meant to me—both as a Lions fan, and as a writer-y type guy.

Doing research for this piece, I was amazed at just how well-traveled, widely read, and influential George Plimpton was, and is. I knew he was a mainstay at Sports Illustrated—as I say in the story, as a tyke I read his later SI work—but, to borrow a phrase from Luke Poling, one of the film’s co-creators, Plimpton was an “intellectual Forrest Gump.” I couldn’t believe how incredibly well-connected he was to, not to mention beloved by, so many great people. On top of that, well, he was an amazing writer.

I’m really excited to see Plimpton! when it’s released, and I’m jazzed about following the book club as it goes from month to month. If you’d like to, too, I’d suggest you subscribe to the Plimpton! RSS feed, and follow @PlimptonMovie on Twitter. In the meantime, I’d love if you’d give my piece a read, and let me know what you think. If you dig it, pass it on.

6 comments:

Elmer April 18, 2011 at 1:12 PM  

I haven't yet read Paper Lion, though I did see the movie in which Alan Alda played the part of Plimpton it was an excellent story. I very much enjoyed his book "Open Net" where he describes his experience as a temporary goaltender for the Boston Bruins. I will certainly look for the documentary when it comes out.

Ty April 18, 2011 at 3:04 PM  

Elmer--

I haven't seen the Paper Lion movie, though I hear it's quite good, too (and several of the principal 'characters' play themselves!). I definitely want to read "Out of My League" and "Open Net," now, too, as well as a bunch of other Plimpton stuff I just found out existed!

Peace
Ty

Dennis April 19, 2011 at 12:42 AM  

Great article, Ty. Loved your piece on the book club website. Perfectly summed up my take on the book(s).

Matt,  April 19, 2011 at 12:30 PM  

I have not seen the movie, either, but the book is one of my all time favorites (and "Mad Ducks and Bears" is sitting on my shelf waiting for its turn to be read). I also just recently read the last interview with Plimpton, conducted by Dave Hollander. It originally appeared in the New York Sports Express as part of Hollander's weekly interview series. The entire series is now contained in the book "52 Weeks: Interviews with Champions!"

I have no connection to Mr. Hollander, his book, or the New York Sports Express. I just found the book, loved it, and thought it appropriate to mention here. It's a fantastic read, if you're interested, and, again, contains the last interview with George Plimpton, conducted about a week before he passed (Mr. Hollander actually got the interview by simply calling The Paris Review office number. . .a call which Mr. Plimpton himself answered simply "Hello?").

Ty April 19, 2011 at 12:35 PM  

Dennis-

Thanks, much appreciated!

Peace
Ty

Ty April 19, 2011 at 12:42 PM  

Matt--

Wow, thanks for the info! I'm definitely going to check that out; doing research for this piece has totally got me hooked on Plimpton's stuff.

Peace
Ty

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