17 April 2010


Finally finished reading the autobiography of Andre Agassi titled 'Open'. Frankly I am not into reading autobiographies or even biographies for that matter. Neither am I too much into sports, though I do know the basics of tennis. But the book came highly recommended by a colleague so I gave it a shot.

I haven't been this moved after reading a non-fiction book in a while. Agassi has literally laid open his entire life for the public. He has left nothing out, not tried to gloss over any of the sordid details in his life. Yet, its written with class. At one point in the book I didn't really like him. He made no effort to be tactful about any of his opinions. His hatred of his father, of tennis, of some rivals - everything is portrayed with brutal candor. Yet as the book, and his life, progresses he turns likable - probably since he finally discovers himself through a lot of self introspection, painful physical & emotional injuries and tremendous effort. His love for all his family, including his father, and his friends is very touching. He comes across as a man who has craved acceptance and understanding all his life which he finally found in Steffi Graf. He was lucky to have a very ambitious father, some inspiring friends and a wife who is his equal in every sense of the word. His is indeed a blessed life though it took him a long time to realize it. Sound familiar?!

Loved the way he connects patterns in his life and uses relevant metaphors. About his marriage with Brooke Shields he says that "We spent most of our time on islands. We are islands." Though his education lasted only till the ninth grade, his vocabulary is rich. Ironically, all the important people in his life viz. his father, his mentor Gil and wife Steffi, did not have English as their first language. Perhaps that's why they understood him the most as they communicated more through body language.

The book also provided a peek into the life of tennis stars and celebrities in general. Their fragile egos, insecurities, physical pain, mental torture makes one realise that a career in sports isn't all that rosy. The journey involves a lot of blood, sweat and will power. Yet not all make it to the top. Somewhat like life itself.


மகேஷ் (Magesh) said...

Nice review :) Did you realize that it was "authored" not by agassi, but one JR Moehringer.

Veena said...

>> His is indeed a blessed life though it took him a long time to realize it. Sound familiar?!

It did ! :)

Nice review.. though I am not sure if I want to read the book.. I dont like to read "struggles" these days ..

J P Joshi said...

Thank you for a very nice review. I somehow love autobiographies, because you get to know the actual person; not what the world infers about the person. Mahatma Gandhi's auto biography, "My experiments with Truth" has been the most powerful and moving experience of book reading that I have had until now. The Mahatma's narration gives one an impression that he was as human as any of us but through sheer will power and adherance to what was true, by his own conscience, achieved what most of can only aspire, if at all.

Shruti said...

Nilu, I heard his interview on NPR after the book came out. Nice review. I'll check it out sometime.

Shruti said...

Here is a link to the NPR interview with Agassi.


Balvinder Singh said...

Honest review of an honest book.Thanks for sharing.

Veena said...

After reading the link, I all the more dont want to read the biography !