Monday, November 23, 2009

Open by Andre Agassi

I tend to think that child prodigies are born with a special gift, destined for fame, shoved along by a god of greatness or something, but what Open, by Andre Agassi reminds us is that kids that become really, really good at something, probably spent their childhood being hammered by an adult to practice, practice, practice. Such is the case with Andre Agassi, whose father was a relentless “stage father,” and slave driver.

OK so he grew up to be one of tennis’ giants, winning eight grand slams, suffered enough to write a really compelling book, and made tons of money, but he also only got a 9th grade education, became a pro at age 16, and had lost most of his hair by the time he turned 30. I remember salivating over those photos of him with his bad-boy long hair. Guess what? It was a toupee and he worried constantly that it would fall off!

Several things about Open made it a worthy read. First, there was his recall of play-by-play of certain pivotal games. Hearing him describe the mechanics and strategy of 140-mile-per-hour serves and returns and the psychological nuances of a lip twitch during a critical point, were riveting. And then there was his description of his ill-fated marriage to Brook Shields. I have long-suspected that celebrity marriages are the result of lawyer-negotiated terms and public relations strategies, but Agassi convinced me that they’re just like “us” when it comes to love - euphoric, shocked, puzzled, compromising, confused, smart, stupid, sad, serene.

So many autobiographies are “Wah wah, poor me,” and “I did this and then I did that,” but with ghostwriter and Pulitzer Prize winner J.R. Moehringer’s help, Open is a well-written, interesting story, whether you care anything about tennis or Agassi or not.


  1. You are amazing! You are a reader, indeed. I love the book reviews, especially if I've read the book - and if I haven't, your reviews are a good guide. I will read Agassi - not sure about Hollywood. I've finished "Born Round" - yes - anything about food and weight! I would not have read "Zeitoun" if you hadn't recommended it - the title and the cover were not inviting and may have turned readers off. But, yes, well worth reading. How about "Molly Ivins" - a new biography. Know you will like it. This is getting long but also liked your mom's lesson on religion. We had the same coffee table book - guess everybody did. Keep on keeping on - Charlena

  2. I, ironically published my own review of Open today on my blog! I agree completely with your review. Open was a great read.