Monday, February 14, 2011

Open, by Andre Agassi

Okay. Let me admit this right up. 1) I'm not a sports fan. 2) I listened to an abridged audiobook version of "Open." Despite that a lot of friends recommended "Open," there was no way I was going to commit to reading a 400-page sports memoir. So my comments here won't reflect as if I've "read" the whole book (technically, I guess I haven't read any of it.)
Whether or not you're a sports fan, though, it turns out "Open" is a compelling read. For the most part, Agassi digs deep, telling us how his tennis-obsessed father pushed him into a sport he quickly came to loathe. He comes clean about his drug use, his rebellious nature and failed marriage to Brooke Shields.
I had a few minor beefs with "Open," though. One is that I wanted to know how Agassi's father came to be such a driven, tennis-obsessed parent. I realize this complaint may not be fair, though, as Agassi may have addressed this in the unabridged version. My other complaint, though, is not one of omission, but of a bit of information Agassi chose to include that I considered petty. Agassi writes that Sampras once gave a valet outside a restaurant a one-dollar tip, with instructions to split it among his colleagues. (And this, according to Agassi, was not a response to bad service, but simply a manifestation of Sampras's cheap nature.) I have no idea if this story holds water but, to be honest, I doubt it. It strains credibility. It just doesn't make any sense. Why would Sampras, flush with prize money AND, knowing that eyes are on him at all times, do something that would cast him in such an unfavorable light? And, speaking of cheap, even if the story is true, isn't it a really cheap shot for Agassi to tell us this? Agassi works so hard at truth-telling through the rest of "Open" -- why would he narc on one of his rivals and risk undermining his readers' trust? Earlier in the book Agassi wrote of Sampras with admiration and affection, so I was perplexed that he included this spurious vignette. Still, these are small issues in an otherwise compelling memoir.
Overall "Open" was an eye-opening look into Agassi's life and the world of marquee tennis stars.
Happy Reading!

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