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Andre A-ghastly - 'open people will feel sorry for him ??!
on 25 February 2010
As a tennis fan I eagerly awaited the publication of this book,especially after hearing all the hype about his shocking frankness and the fact he 'hated tennis'. This was unbelievable to me - how could someone who had spent his life perfecting his craft, a role-model for a generation of players, an icon of the sport, say such a thing ?? It must surely be a ploy to shift his book off the shelves !? So I thought......
The style of writing is incredible, it paints a very clear picture of Andre as a boy, trapped by the heated relationship with his father and his obsession to create a tennis genius - that completely shaped his whole future existence. At times I looked at the cover - and the photo of Andre with his sad puppy dog eyes - and wondered if he could have truly written this alone - it was fabulous, involving, page-turning, addictive reading. Maybe he should have been a writer (not a tennis player)?
The pace of the book is gripping. Yet the tone remains the same throughout. The deep subliminal message, set right from the first page, that at first had you routing for him to succeed against the 'odds', that emotional clawing at the heart strings, that unabashed martyrdom, pretty quickly becomes quite irksome to the soul. This man could not stand up for himself. He could not get his act together. He comes across as a whinging self-absorbed mood-hoover. He lacks the courage of his convictions most of the way through his life's journey in this book - and rightfully expects everyone to 'feel sorry' for him along the way !? That is the true revelation of this book. Not the fact that he hated tennis, took drugs, dated celebrities or even wore a wig. He is not the person we all thought he was. He is not a rebel, an icon, a legend. He is human.
The negative cloud that encompasses him (and you the reader), in the first three quarters of his book, dispels when he comes to talking about the love of his life and bearer of his children Steffi Graf. It was an absolute joy to see the difference love has made to his demeanour. It was fascinating to hear about how they met and his infatuation with her all along - even having a picture of her on his fridge in the early days (surely this is an amazing example of Cosmic Ordering !!). She sounds like a magnificent, inspiring, confident, wise human being of mythic proportions. The way she is depicted in such a god-like fashion almost makes one feel she is too good for our poor little hard-done-by Andre Agassi.
Yes, I have griped about his emotional hijacking of one's pity, but it's HIS book so I guess he is entitled to be OPEN in the only way he knows how. The story WAS enjoyable, however. The insight into locker room tennis, his rivalry with Boris Becker, Jimmy Connors and Pete Sampras and his open vulnerability in all his relationships are immensely eye-opening. His journey to the top of mens tennis was incredible. And this book is actually a great read. All credit and due respect to him.