Sports fans – tennis fans especially – have to read this, one of the best sports books I’ve ever read. Andre Agassi’s autobiography has been out a while, so you’ve probably already heard the outline of how his overbearing father forced him into a sport he hated, how he went on hating it even as he rose to its heights, and how he found some measure of happiness and peace… sort of.
Agassi has always been an appealingly tortured and rebellious character, but what makes his story crackle is the writing by novelist and Pulitzer Prize winning journalist J.R. Moehringer. What Moehringer manages to do is take a fractious, egotistical, generous, soul-searching and emotionally damaged athlete and make him eminently likable by bringing you inside his mind. Agassi’s pain, good will and humor all come across even as he’s engaging in tantrums and other misbehavior. Plus Moehringer gives you just enough of the sport to let you understand what’s at stake and how it feels to play the loneliest game there is.
I’m a tennis player ranked somewhere roughly between Agassi and a clump of dirt so I particularly enjoyed it, but anyone who’s interested in sports and the special kind of personality who can perform at high levels athletically in front of thousands is going to like this a lot.