Friday, October 22, 2010

Andre Agassi is a better writer than Thoreau


The ultimate coup of an Open -- as opposed to say a Walden -- is that Mr. Agassi, apparently prompted not by his ghostwriter's advice but by that greater guide Instinct, elects to set his book in present times. Are the hairs on your arms standing up yet?

And in doing so, in choosing our own contemporary era out of all the epochs in material history, Mr. Agassi has freed himself up to tell a story not only relevant to him (he can write about his tennis career, his personal relationships, his own inner psychological dramas, etc.) but to us (we too have an intimate understanding of the world in which he's set his book).

So Thoreau's mistake, you see, is not that he neglects to write about feelings of alienation upon visiting Brooke Shields on the set of Friends (though that would have proved interesting). His error is in setting his work in a time when the very act of visiting Brooke Shields on the set of Friends would be impossible.

The unspoken tragedy here is that it is Mr. Thoreau, not Andre Agassi, who is the more original thinker. Both writers explore the notion that a man's meanest jailor is his own conception of himself, but there's a certain poetic profundity to Thoreau's exploration that Agassi's nakedly lacks.

We may one day meet that writer who weds Thoreau's sagacity with Agassi's topical discussion of such matters as "the 2-year rule" (the idea that Andre Agassi, prior to dating and then marrying Stephanie Graf in 2001, felt that all of his relationships with women became stale around the 2 year mark). Until then, we must accept that our greatest writers are, like us, imperfect. Though some (Andre Agassi) are, by the narrowest of margins, better than others (Thoreau).

It must also be noted that Agassi is the better visual artist. His hardcover book features a beautiful high-resolution image of himself staring straight at us. Thoreau's book is paperback and beginning to tatter.

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