#20 of 40 Books this 2017 Goal
My sudden obsession with tennis has led me to Andre Agassi’s autobiography, Open (the title of course is both an allusion to tennis and to the notion of opening up or confessing). The book is co-written by J.R. Moehringer, a Pulitzer winning journalist and author (he refused to be credited by including his name in the book cover).
What the Book is About
Open offers a comprehensive coverage of Agassi’s tennis career from his childhood when his father used to force him to practice tennis and up until his last pro match at the 2006 US Open. Agassi also divulged very personal life events – his brief addiction to crack cocaine, marriage and divorce to the actress Brooke Shields, how he courted and won Steffi Graf over, and his hatred towards tennis.
Being familiar to tennis would help to fully enjoy the book but is not necessary. Agassi, in this book, comes out as someone who is very insightful, witty, and many times broken. The narrative and the writing are highly engaging which makes this a delight to read not just for tennis fans but for anyone who loves literature. One caveat though is that the numerous accounts of Agassi’s tennis competitions (from his first ever as a child up to his very last as a tennis pro) could be just a tad tedious for those not into tennis.
Open is a good book period. It does not matter whether you know Agassi or not. To be honest, I only had a very vague idea of who Agassi is. Usually, I read autobiographies because I am a fan of the writer beforehand (Amy Poehler’s Yes Please, Tina Fey’s Bossypants, Carry Brownstein’s Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl). I was not a fan of Agassi. But now, having read Open, I guess I am though not much for his tennis as to his writing or for his contemplation. The sentences were probably edited to perfection by his Pulitzer-winning co-writer but I am quite sure that the thoughts were Agassi’s.
Agassi is known mainly for his tennis career. He is generally considered as one of the greats. But, in Open the reader would realize that winning was actually not the norm for Agassi’s tennis career. He lost so many matches. He has 8 grand slams but after his 3rd it took him 4 years to get another one. The book recounts the rise and fall and fall and fall of Agassi before his relatively steady rise again. Agassi had to start from the bottom again before he was able to make a comeback and everything is documented in this book which makes it an inspiring read.
If only for Agassi, I suddenly want Novak Djokovic to start winning Grand Slams again just because he recently got Agassi as his coach.