Confessions of a last-string quarterback
The book that made a legend, and a classic of sports writing – George Plimpton's Paper Lion is published in the UK on its 50th anniversary.
In the mid-1960s, George Plimpton talked his way into the Detroit Lions’ pre-season training camp and in doing so set the bar for participatory sports journalism. With his characteristic wit, Plimpton recounts his experience of a month practising and living with the team – getting to know the pressures and tensions rookies confront, the hijinks, taking behind the scenes snaps and capturing a host of American football rites and rituals.
Plimpton might not have made it as a quarterback, but fifty years after its first publication, Paper Lion remains one of the most insightful and entertaining classics of sports literature.
“A continuous feast... The best book ever about football - or anything!”
Wall Street Journal
“A great book that makes football absolutely fascinating to fan and non-fan alike...a tale to gladden the envious heart of every weekend athlete... Plimpton has endless curiosity, unshakable enthusiasm and nerve, and a deep respect for the world he enters”
New York Times
“The agility and imaginativeness of his prose transforms his account of this daydream into a classic of sports reporting”
“Possibly the most arresting and delightful narrative in all of sports literature”
“With his gentle, ironic tone, and unwillingness to take himself too seriously, along with Roger Angell, John Updike and Norman Mailer he made writing about sports something that mattered.”
“The casual, curious, light-hearted precision of his prose is just as impressive as the way a great ball player can make the ball pop off his bat.”
“To suggest they have achieved classic status would be to devalue their still very immediate pleasures… [Plimpton] was a lyrical, precise observational writer, with a keen eye for human absurdity’.”
“What drives these books, and has made them so popular, is Plimpton’s continuous bond-making with the reader and the comedy inherent in his predicament. He is the Everyman, earnests and frail, wandering in a world of supermen, beset by fears of catastrophic violence and public humiliation, yet gamely facing it all in order to survive and tell the tale… A prodigious linguistic ability is on display throughout, with a defining image often appended at the end of a sentence like a surprise dessert.”
Timothy O'Grady, Times Literary Supplement