Thursday, April 7, 2011

Recommended read: Open by Andre Agassi

Andre Agassi was thought to be a punk-- all you had to do was look at his hair, outfits, and jewelry (the horror!). But the truth is that he was really trying to rebel against the situation he was put in. Forced to play tennis as a youngster by his father, Agassi never really chose to be a tennis player.
“The net is the biggest enemy, but thinking is the cardinal sin. Thinking, my father believes, is the source of all bad things, because thinking is the opposite of doing. When my father catches me thinking, daydreaming, on the tennis court, he reacts as if he caught me taking money from his wallet. I often think about how I can stop thinking. I wonder if my father yells at me to stop thinking because he knows I’m a thinker by nature. Or, with all his yelling, has he turned me into a thinker? Is my thinking about things other than tennis an act of defiance? I like to think so.”
As was well publicized when the book came out, Agassi discloses his crystal meth use in the late 90s. Shocking, not really. Disappointing, yes. What I found to be shocking was his revelation about his feelings on tennis: he views it as a necessary evil because as a teenager, who had dropped out of school, it was his only real skill to earn a living. It is sad that he hated the very thing that brought joy to so many.

Agassi is a talented writer. He skillfully conveys the contradictions that go on in an athlete's head-- especially an athlete in "the loneliest sport." The passages that recall his crucial tennis matches over the years are as riveting as watching them. He delves respectively into his marriage to Brooke Shields, his relationship with Barbra Streisand, and ultimate courtship and marriage to Steffi Graf. An excellent autobiography, even if you're not a tennis fan.

Open by Andre Agassi
Find it in the catalog!