Friday, August 3, 2012

Open by Andre Agassi

Our family watches the Olympics every chance we get these early days of August. The stories, the action, we love it all. The sound of the theme music initiates a memory line in me that fires open when I hear it; I can remember as a child watching the few televised hours each night of action and just loving it. I can hear Jim McKay’s voice right now: that’s the power of memory and emotion I think, glued to that action, to what was going on at the Olympics.

I am totally into reading memoirs these days, and when a friend suggested reading Open, I jumped on it. Andre Agassi has always been an amazing athlete to me, and I figured his autobiography (I know, I know: not memoir!) would be rich. And it is. A solid read telling the story of his hating tennis, his coaches, his constant desire to quit tennis, and his staying power to continue to seek perfection and personal satisfaction. I found the read a pretty clear example of the humanity of life from an professional athlete’s perspective.

He aptly tells the story of his life in Open. Agassi is a surprisingly good writer, even though he never got engaged in schooling and escaped from it as soon as he could. He writes about developing lasting friendships and maneuvering the challenges he experienced within his family. Some of the stories will likely make you cringe but I have to say I would like to see what this “monster” his dad created looks like. Sounds like quite the nightmare-inducing machine. That being said, I way more want to see his trainer Gil’s idea of a good workout. Agassi entertains the reader with stories of resilience, of finding his way from despair and decisions of quitting to hope and trying new training techniques. Much of his book explores his ongoing need for trusted friends supporting his quest for internal greatness: it is from his finding the proper supports that he ends up becoming the great tennis player he was. Mostly I think I liked how his story sounds so familiar, common, like living through the trials of life hit all of us, and how we have to find our way, alone and with others.

I really enjoyed this read. If you are looking for a calm, engaging sports story, wanting to know a little more about Stefanie Graf and Andre Agassi (or even Brooke Shields), this might be a good summer read for you! Particularly before the closing of the Olympics.

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