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Life after death for Paris Review

The magazine's 50th anniversary fete will go on as planned after last week's passing of editor George Plimpton.

September 30, 2003|Hillel Italie | Associated Press

NEW YORK — Just as George Plimpton surely would have wished, the Paris Review will proceed with an eclectic 50th anniversary celebration of the influential literary quarterly.

"George was the ultimate host, so he would want the party to go on," associate editor Thomas Moffett said Monday. Plimpton, the magazine's famously extroverted editor, died in his sleep Thursday at age 76. The event will be held Oct. 14 at Cipriani's, an upscale restaurant in midtown Manhattan, and will reflect Plimpton's literary tastes and nonliterary passions.

Guests will include authors Kurt Vonnegut, E.L. Doctorow and Paul Auster and actors Alec Baldwin and Timothy Hutton. In addition to readings from works that have appeared in the magazine, the party will include an indoor fireworks show and a cancan line.

"His spirit would have balked at the idea of turning this into a funereal occasion," said Auster, whose novels include "The Music of Chance" and "The Book of Illusions."

Meanwhile, staffers at the Paris Review have a magazine to put together. Plimpton had just made his final edits on a special anniversary issue coming out in October, and work is starting on the winter issue, due in December.

There was no formal succession plan, and no replacement has been named. In 2000, a foundation was established to ensure the magazine would continue after Plimpton.

"We've never been in this situation," Moffett says, "We're just continuing the way we have been and working together."

The Paris Review was founded in 1953 by authors Peter Matthiessen and Harold L. Humes, who wanted a publication that emphasized literature over literary criticism. Plimpton joined as the magazine's editor and ran it until his death.

Countless careers have been helped by an excerpt in the Paris Review, including Philip Roth's, Jack Kerouac's, Rick Moody's and Jeffrey Eugenides'.

Based in New York since the mid-1970s, the Paris Review is an intimate operation, with about eight editors, a handful of readers and three to four interns in offices housed downstairs from Plimpton's Upper East Side apartment. The subscription base is about 4,000. The anniversary event also will serve as a fund-raiser.

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