Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Book 29 of 52 -- Andre Agassi's Open

For me, Andre Agassi's book is most memorable because we learn that the "real" Agassi is not the Agassi we thought we knew. The disjunction between public image and private reality is rarely explored in an autobiography, and Agassi (and his ghost-writer) have gone into areas usually untouched by people on the public stage. Agassi was, in many ways, an abused and neglected child. He did not know who he was; he was hardly the "rebel" or "enfant terrible" that the press made him out to be. His wrenching struggles and his personal growth took place despite the efforts of the media to tell a pat story about him, and they occurred away from the tennis court.

Agassi's frankness about himself separates this book from most autobiographies. It's not really a book about tennis but a book about how to become a human being. In fact, with a few exceptions, the accounts of Grand Slam matches are not very enlightening to the amateur tennis player on the technical level. But the accounts of Agassi's depression, his self-doubt, and his hatred for tennis are unforgettable.

This book could, however, have been 50 to 100 pages shorter without losing its impact.

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