"It was a jarring descent, especially for the shorter members of the staff," recalls the 6 ft., 4 in. Plimpton in the Paris Review Sketchbook, a loopy and lilting history of the magazine in the 25th anniversary issue. "On occasion, this exodus--which must have looked like the flight of second-story men surprised in mid-job--coincidd with the return of the mounted Garde Republicaine from an official function.
"As they turned into their quarters across the street, their horses' hooves clattering on the cobblestones, they would glance haughtily from under their brims of their plumed helmets at the editors . . . as if a decent of cat burglers, their legs flailing briefly as they dropped from the facade of Edition Plon, was beneath their dignity to do anything about."
Plimpton, alternatively referred to in the history as GAP, or The Editor, added in his Los Angeles hotel room, "The office was so small. You couldn't fit more than two people in there at once. We had one woman who weighed almost 400 pounds and when she was in the office we spent a great deal of time at the Cafe de Tournon."
The Tournon, just around the corner, was where the editors spread out their proof sheets, read new manuscripts, and discussed plans for the next issue. It was a slightly seedy establishment, but comfortably removed from the crowded cafes of St. Germain-des-Pres such as the Deux Maggots where tourists went hoping to glimpse Jean-Paul Sartre or Simone de Beauvoir.
"I remember sitting in the Cafe de Tournon afternoons," Plimpton says. "It was where everyone collected. Very smoky and very bright. There wasn't a dark corner in the place. I remember two pinball machines by the front door and an Irish setter named Arnauld."