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Stalking George Plimpton: A Google Maps Essay

1/15/2010 9:34:32 AM

Tags: Great Writing, George Plimpton, Dinty W Moore, Google Maps, humor, The Normal School, Danielle Maestretti

George PlimptonThirty-two years ago, a very stoned college student was charged with picking up George Plimpton, the legendary journalist and Paris Review benefactor, and depositing him at the campus where he was scheduled to give a talk. Through his multi-drug-induced haze, said college student successfully, if a bit creepily, completed this task, and managed a handful of odd run-ins with Plimpton in the years that followed. There’s more, and it’s very funny, but I won’t spoil the punchline.

This student grew up to be Dinty W. Moore, a well-known writer of fiction and nonfiction in his own right, and he recounts this tale of accidental stalking in a Google Maps essay called “Mr. Plimpton’s Revenge.” As you’ll quickly see if you click, the essay is literally written in a Google map, and the smart, quirky folks at the literary magazine The Normal School figured out a way to translate the piece—with all its map-embedded charm—into print, which is where I first spied it.

It’s an interesting format, and with a different story or a different writer, I might have thought it gimmicky, but it really works for Moore’s short, suspenseful, somewhat geographical piece. I also (unfortunately) can identify with this problem: “As is so often the case when one picks up a famous writer, I didn’t know what to say, but I couldn’t stop talking.”

Source: The Normal School 

Photo by MDCarchives, licensed under Creative Commons.

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