Graydon Carter, George Plimpton’s Understudy

plimpton111408 Graydon Carter, George Plimptons UnderstudyThe New York Times has posted a preview of the Book Review’s lead review from this week: Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter on Nelson W. Aldrich, Jr.’s George Plimpton oral biography, George, Being George: George Plimpton’s Life as Told, Admired, Deplored, and Envied by 200 Friends, Relatives, Lovers, Acquaintances, Rivals — and a Few Unappreciative Observers. (An oral biography of George Plimpton: Capital idea!)

It’s hard finding just one thing to quote from the long, admiring review, which takes into account a man with a long, admirable life, but here’s one little nugget.

Per Mr. Carter:

I remember getting a call some years ago from a television casting agent looking for a patrician type to play an editor who liked to go shooting rats in Central Park. I asked the agent if she had approached anyone else. As it happened, she had. Lewis Lapham said it was beneath him. George Plimpton agreed to do it, but he had a scheduling conflict. So she ended up with me. And the show went off the air within the year.

If you’re interested in seeing some of the roles Mr. Plimpton did have time for, Blake Wilson, writing for The Times‘ Paper Cuts Blog, presents The George Plimpton Film Festival.

Mr. Carter also manages to get meta while talking about the founding of The Paris Review, which sounds suspiciously like his own start-up a generation later, but now feels like a misdirected telegram from a lost world:

I am reliably informed that little magazines comprise four elements: shabby, cramped quarters; meager wages; attractive interns of independent means; and boundless enthusiasm. They are also excellent excuses for throwing parties.