Driving in Circles

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I’m looking for reasons to be in my car.  I consider crossing state lines to mail a letter or buy milk.  As always, the explanation is related to a book.  I don’t want to drive.  I want to listen.  I usually have an audiobook in my car so there’s a back-up plan to NPR.  But lately I’m not listening to the news.  I don’t know the status of the oil spill clean-up, but I do know how Andre Agassi felt about Boris Becker.  I’m listening to Open, Agassi’s memoir, and quite frankly, I’m a bit obsessed.  I wasn’t that focused on Agassi’s career when he was playing.  I knew if he won a major tournament, but only in a topical way.  I began listening to the book because of its glowing reviews, most of which focused on Agassi’s frankness.  I thought it might be interesting in a behind-the-scenes kind of way.  But it’s much more than that.  I now understand the  enthusiasm for this book.  It’s so compelling that when I am forced to come inside (after my family wonders why I’ ve been sitting in the driveway for 30 minutes), I go to YouTube and watch old Agassi tennis matches.  As the book’s title suggests, he is so brutally honest about the emotional and physical costs of his career, that it is sometimes painful to watch videos of him playing the game he says that he hates.

I’ve gone a bit outside the pervue of my blog by writing about this book for adults.  However, I am going to recommend Open to my fifteen-year-old son. I think teenagers would appreciate Agassi’s honesty and be able to understand some of the doubts that plagued the young Agassi. I’m not quite at the end of the book so it’s time to get in my car and drive to the grocery store – maybe I’ll check out one in Maine today!

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One thought on “Driving in Circles

  1. Shelly –

    I almost never read sports bio’s but on the strength of your review (and my respect for you) I reluctantly read this one. As a traditionalist / conservative in many aspects of my life, I was never much of a fan of Andre Agassi . Though I can recall marveling at his return of serve and top spin lob shots, his image overwhelmed me.

    To me, the book is a great read – tangentially about tennis, and more interestingly about the often tragic arc of an abbreviated childhood, extended / enabled adolescence and Agassi’s ultimate path to a contented maturity. It resonated with me not because I inhabit a world of child actors or athletic prodigies, but because I think that to a some extent this pattern (abbreviated childhood / extended adolescence) is prevalent across broad swaths of America. Whether it be 10 month competitive travel hockey seasons or the meticulous programming / pre-packing of teen lives in pursuit of competitive college admission, so many great years seem to be squandered joylessly focused in preparation for a pursuit ultimately unachievable or unenjoyable.

    The writing style of the book is a little dramatic for me at times, but the crucible of a public adolescence probably feels dramatic, so I suppose the style is true to the author. The story line is uplifting. How wonderful that a maturing man who was “loved by many” but who needed guidance, intimacy and a reason for being, was able to ultimately find his way to all three.

    Only sports Bio I have read since I was a kid. Without your review, I never would have bothered to read it. Got any other ideas for me?
    Best – KWH

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