Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Book Recommendation: OPEN by Andre Agassi

My good friend and critique partner Kelly suggested I read this book after I e-mailed her several weeks ago to ask her a few things about Florida. (My next manuscript, the as-yet un-nicknamed one, takes place in Florida. And it involves tennis. Guess my cat’s out of the bag.) Mr. Agassi’s autobiography hooked me from the first word.

As you might imagine, Mr. Agassi has been playing tennis for pretty much ever. But what you might not imagine is that he’s hated it for about that long as well. Distorted by the constant pressure to be the best, to conform to his father’s standards--and those of the entire tennis world--he was often moody, rebellious, and unconventional. But that unconventionality, he says, was not really who he was.

To be honest, I didn’t always believe Mr. Agassi’s declarations of innocence. How can you pretend to be something for so long and not let at least a little bit of it become a part of you? Still, I found his defense riveting, and here’s what I do believe: Mr. Agassi is one of the most generous, least self-serving famous people I have ever read or heard about. He is a devoted husband and father. And for a ninth-grade dropout, he cares more about education than many educators I’ve spoken to--and puts his money where his mouth is. (His school, Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy, sounds like one of the best things growing in Las Vegas at the moment.)

If you're even marginally interested in tennis or like to read about larger-than-life personalities, definitely check out OPEN (which, by the way, is perhaps the most perfect title ever). And if you know anything about playing professional tennis as a teenager--say, if your name is Christina McHale or Andre Agassi--feel free to shoot me an e-mail:)

P.S. You should know that Mr. Agassi--well, one of his coaches, mostly--uses the F-word now and then. I didn’t think the F-words in OPEN were gratuitous, but they were there. Just something to be aware of.


Write Life said...

Yes, I too thought the title was great! But it wasn't just the title I loved, but the actual cover design too - that lovely link with his eyes wide open look. Gorgeous!

The one thing I heard about the book, was that Agassi was giving tennis a hard slap, or one could even say, biting the hand that fed him.
Did you find that?
I've got it on my shelf, but haven't taken the dive yet.
I'd be interested in your impression on that.

It's interesting though the balance as a parent and a talented child. I went through it with my brother, and boy that's a story. And I'm going through it with my own son. You walk a fine line as a parent, I can tell you that. I'm so hyper aware of not pushing too hard, but also providing the right support. Ugh!
Being a parent!

Krista Van Dolzer said...

Escape Artist (Linda, right?), in some ways, I got what Agassi was trying to say about hating tennis, and in other ways, I didn't. I don't think he was biting the hand that fed him so much as denying what had to be at least a passing interest in tennis. You don't keep doing something for nearly thirty years when you absolutely despise it.

I do believe he felt kind of a love-hate relationship with tennis. He hated the way his father pushed him, the way he never felt like he had a choice in the matter, but he wanted to be perfect. If he had to play tennis, then he was going to be the best darn player that ever played. The book opened with a minute-by-minute account of his second-round match at the 2006 U.S. Open, and the lines he kept repeating were, "Please let this be over. I'm not ready for it to be over."

I get that. I get loving something one moment and hating it the next. I ride that same roller coaster every time I'm writing and/or querying a new manuscript. "This is gonna be the One. I'm never gonna write the One. I love these characters, these stories. I wish I'd never put words to paper."

Melinda said...

This looks really interesting. Thanks for the info!

Love your blog, Krista! Loved the last agent's inbox.

BTW, if you haven't heard, voting is open for King and Queen of Romance. Thought I'd let you know and thank you for the nomination. Hoping for lots of votes since we have lots of couples. :) See ya there!

Write Life said...

Maybe we've all just got split personalities?! hehe

Yeah, it's Linda. I keep wondering how to squish it in with the rest my id without it sounding like someone with four middle names. ; )

Krista Van Dolzer said...

Melinda, thanks for stopping by! I'll have to pop over and check out the nominations.

Linda, the things we writers and tennis players put ourselves through:) And yeah, changing the name you use on the Internet is tough. You always worry people aren't going to realize it's you!