Andre Agassi's new memoir, Open, out today, has been causing a stir because of major revelations in the book -- that Agassi used crystal meth regularly, that he hid a deep hatred of tennis for most of his life, and that he wore a toupee before shaving his head. These have comprised most of the gossip surrounding the book, and are the only reasons to read it, according to some. The St. Augustine Record quips:
You tennis fans want a quick way to save $30? Tennis legend Andre Agassi hated tennis, despised his father, used crystal meth during his playing career and lied his way out of a positive drug test. Nothing like condensing a 300-page book into three lines of The Rant.
Others, however, find value in the quality of writing, due in no small part, presumably, to J. R. Moehringer, author of The Tender Bar and Agassi's partner in writing Open. The New York Times, highlighting a discomfort with the ghostwriting that is clearly at least partially responsible for the memoir, wonders:
...which of them actually wrote "it's the main reason for my pigeon-toed walk" about Mr. Agassi's troublesome bottom vertebra. The ease with which Mr. Moehringer slips into telling someone else's story is both consummate and spooky.
The Times goes on to appreciate the thematic symmetry of the narration, noting that the book both starts and ends with a tennis match, each in their own way "all-important."
Generally, responses have been somewhat skeptical of Agassi's new-found frankness. The Telegraph wonders if perhaps Agassi is willing to leak these painful secrets, all the while feeding newspaper gossip, less out of a coming-clean wish to finally tell the truth than out of an interest in book sales:
...[w]hat must really have pleased Agassi about the propagation of his tale is that every article, every opinion piece, every column reacting to the news has made mention of its source: his freshly published autobiography. Which was, presumably, the point in the first place.
While much has been made of Agassi's admission of using crystal meth in 1997, people seem just as much interested, if not more so in some cases, in his hair woes. The Miami Herald frames his toupee use as almost as shocking as the meth use:
Andre Agassi's admission that he dabbled in crystal meth 12 years ago is hardly the only shocking confession in his memoir...
Despite all of the controversy and skepticism surrounding the book, there seems to be something to be said for Agassi's new-found Openness, and a 60 Minutes interview with Katie Couric this weekend reveals how compelling the story of a boy with no other choice than to become a tennis champion can be.
For Part Two, click here.