Book Notes, July to September 2017
Open by Andre Agassi — The interesting thing about Agassi’s story is he hated his sport. Emmanuel Agassi, an Iranian Olympic boxer migrated to Las Vegas, decided his son would be a tennis pro before he was born. Rigged up a machine to fire balls at a toddler thousands of times a day and sent him on to academies. In Andre’s telling, by the time he got to decide what he wanted to do he only had one option, one he didn’t want. Even when that job got him rich, famous and married to Brooke Shields.
Only when things fell apart, he got a ban for crystal meth and dropped to the bottom did Agassi get to enjoy tennis. The rise from there back to world number one late in his career is the real sporting life.
Running with the Kenyans by Adharanand Finn — Finn moves for six months to the marathon capital of the world, a town in Kenya called Iten. He hopes to find out what makes the locals worldbeaters at distance running. Running miles to school every day? Running barefoot? Ugali? Altitude? Attitude? And of course it’s a bit of all of that. Except the barefoot running, Kenyans wear trainers.
Hidden City by Karl Whitney — I got this book about Dublin from Daunt before visiting in August, but it’s more a book for locals seeking out obscure bits of their city. Whitney explores underground rivers, ghost towns hit by the financial crash, sewage systems and bus networks. Luckily I can happily read about infrastructure all day, I don’t know why.
The Green Road by Anne Enright — Picked up from the great Irish fiction section of Chapters in Dublin. We have a family on the west coast of Ireland, Rosaleen and her children.
He did not seem happy, he seemed a bit impatient but, That is because I am well, Constance thought, I have been wasting his time with my robust good health, I have been wasting everyone’s time! Her clever body had been doing a great job. Complex. Microscopic. Quiet. The map of light that was her left breast was not frightful but beautiful, and the marbled black and white of its sonic depths was lovely too.
Constance stays and the others go off to New York and Mali. We hear the separate stories of them, and then they’re brought back together.
She had not thought it would be dark, not yet, the way the Atlantic sky held the light for so long after the sun was down, something to do with the height of the heavens out here on the green road. The west was still open and clear, but the ground under her feet was tricky enough. All the colour was going from things and nothing was easy to see. You could not tell grey from grey.
A Crime in Holland by Georges Simenon
The Grand Banks Café by Georges Simenon