Books: Plimping for Fun

SHADOW BOX by George Plimpton Putnam; 351 pages; $9.95

Should the verb be "to plimp"? The participatory journalism of such books as Out of My League and Paper Lion, in which the amateur ventures lamblike among the wolves of professional sport—and then writes about how it feels to be a lamb chop—is unique to George Plimpton. Others have sedulously aped his ideas and style, but the author remains an original: a leaning tower of self-respect, plimping all the way to the showers.

His newest chronicle of utter failure recalls an adventure that occurred in 1959 when Plimpton, now 50 and frail, was 31...

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