Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Das Leben der Anderen (The Lives of Others)

Just found a website on one of my favorite writers, George Plimpton:

In his book “The Best of Plimpton,” you can find the following 4th of July
anecdote:

I remember Norman Mailer at one of our July fireworks parties in the
Hamptons. He wanted to fire a shell. He had his bourbon drink in a blue
glass, really more a vase, the sort of receptacle one usually finds in the
back of a kitchen cabinet when everything else in the house, even the
plastic cups, has been commandeered. He held the drink in one hand, safe
out behind him, and he approached the fuse with the railroad flare in the
other...The mortar held a six-inch Japanese shell. I watched him—struck
again by the grotesque attitudes that people get into when faced with
igniting a shell.In his case, he seemed not unlike a scientist intent on
catching a lizard by the back of the neck. The shell came out almost
instantaneously. His surprise at the shock of its emergence—a six-inch
shell of that type weighs about eight pounds—toppled Norman into a
complete backward somersault through the sawgrass. Astonishingly the
blue vase remained upright as he pinwheeled around it; not a drop of
bourbon splashed out. He got up and took a sip and asked if he could do
another. ‘Do you have anything slightly larger?’

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