SBD/June 14, 2013/People and Pop Culture

Jimmy Connors' "The Outsider" Gets Mixed Reviews; Overshadowed By Agassi's Book?

As Tennis HOFer JIMMY CONNORS' autobiography "THE OUTSIDER -- A MEMOIR" continues to rank among the N.Y. Times' Best Sellers, THE DAILY offers a grouping of reviews from the past few weeks. The GUARDIAN's Tim Adams wrote Connors' memoir has "little of the tortured introspection of the best example of the genre, ANDRE AGASSI's 'OPEN,' or the self-aware wit" of JOHN MCENROE's "SERIOUS." But in its place is an "examination of a legendary American pugnaciousness, which veers often, authentically, into boorishness or sentimentality." The book is mostly written in a "testosterone-induced spirit" (GUARDIAN, 5/26). In St. Louis, Joe Williams wrote Connors' book is a "disappointment" when compared to those by McEnroe and Agassi. While we "get blow-by-blow accounts of epic matches, we never get inside Connors' cranium." But that is "not surprising, because he made a fortune as a defensive counter-puncher" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 5/29). In N.Y., Peter Lattman wrote Agassi’s book was "groundbreaking in its raw, complex, dark examination of a major athlete’s life." Connors in his book "tries to dig deep," but it "lacks the insight and nuance of Agassi’s book" (N.Y. TIMES, 6/2). In London, Mike Atherton wrote, "Of Connors and this era, there is a great book to be written, but this is not it, being as it is a straightforward version of events, whose enduring tone is sour and bitter, except where his family is concerned." Connors "has his head stuck too far up his own ass to find anything really interesting to say about the players he played against, or the era he played in" (LONDON TIMES, 5/25).

CHEERS & JEERS
: In Portland, Douglas Perry wrote Connors' book "tends to read like an endless Facebook post -- a score-settling, triumphalist personal history blissfully free of context or meaning." The "one exception is Connors' memories of his late mother GLORIA, who built his game and his persona." Agassi's "touchy-feely 2009 bestseller 'Open' can be a bit much for some tastes, but at least Andre put it out there." There is "something to be said for being introspective and thoughtful when you're writing a book about yourself." Connors "has no interest in being open," and "worse, he either doesn't know how to tell a story or he can't be bothered" (OREGONLIVE.com, 5/10). But TENNIS.com’s Steve Tignor wrote the book is “worth the time of any tennis fan, especially any fan of the game’s Wild West and early 80s.” The book “glosses over many of his familiar on-court triumphs fairly quickly.” Tignor: “What we get more of is Connors’ off-court life.” But he does “confess his share of his own sins and embarrassments” (TENNIS.com, 5/20). The WALL STREET JOURNAL’s Edward Kosner wrote Connors “serves up a memoir that, like his game, makes up in energy and focused force what it may lack in finesse” (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 5/25).

CHRIS CROSSED? In London, Celia Walden wrote there are "touching passages" in Connors' book about his mother, grandmother and wife. But they are "largely overshadowed by his unchivalrous portrayal" of his former fiancée CHRIS EVERT as a "controlling, promiscuous young woman who bore little resemblance to the softly spoken all-American girl with whom the world fell in love" (London TELEGRAPH, 5/31). Also in London, Julian Hall wrote Connors’ suggestion that Evert had an abortion is a “rare wrong-footed moment” for him. It is a “pity, as it is clear that Connors has an enduring affection for her.” Hall: “Jimbo wouldn't be Jimbo unless someone was pissed at him” (London INDEPENDENT, 6/1). 
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