THE MAN IN THE FLYING LAWN CHAIR: And Other Excursions and Observations

George Plimpton, Author , edited by Sarah Dudley Plimpton. Random $24.95 (200p) ISBN 978-1-4000-6342-0

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. The title essay is the only high-flying piece, as Plimpton merely listens to and reports the fascinating and tragic story of a man who strapped helium balloons to a lawn chair and took a ride high above the California coast. For the rest, the author, who died last year at age 76, relays the tepid tales of some of his more recent stunts, like performing on Amateur Night at the Apollo in Harlem and interviewing porn stars at a Las Vegas porn convention. While these more recent essays (published between 1991 and 2004) do not offer the nail-biting enjoyment of some of Plimpton's past work (like the bestselling book Paper Lion ), they do contain all of the typical Plimpton literary trademarks: elegant yet straightforward narration; boundless, infectious curiosity; and a palpable compassion and respect for the differences in personality that make us unique literary specimens. Lackluster or not, this volume is a suitable introduction to Plimpton's spirit and style. Agent, Amanda Urban. (On sale Sept. 7)

Reviewed on: 08/02/2004
Release date: 09/01/2004
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 183 pages - 978-0-8129-7372-3
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