Serious: The Autobiography, John McEnroe, Little Brown 2002|
In the early 1980s, I was a Borg fan. Effortless, ice cool and genial, he was the personification of what John McEnroe was not. Yet my perception of the 'Superbrat' has changed in recent years. I like him. A brilliant commentator, with an eloquence and effortless turn of phrase, McEnroe has matured into an affable, good humoured and self-effacing man. If ever the years have mellowed a person, then
McEnroe is that person.
His mass of shock hair has gone, but his candour and entertainment value have not.
The McEnroe story is an extraordinary one, and MQ readers are unlikely to be disappointed by a man who was no ordinary sportsman. Brought up in Queens, McEnroe went on to win 77 career titles and 7 Grand Slams. Any tennis fan will enjoy reading about his views on adversaries on the court - particularly his dislike
of Connors and admiration for Borg, as well as his relationship with the media and tennis
establishment off it.
He does not mince his words
and has strong opinions on the way forward for tennis. He argues convincingly that 'It should be played with wooden racquets' in order to bring craft to a game taken over by power. McEnroe passionately cares about the Davis Cup, when many fellow players shun it in search of more lucrative
competitions. He is also a man of interests. An aspiring rock star, McEnroe loves fame and the celebrity it brings. He once held up a Rolling Stones concert for half an hour 'having a smoke' with Jagger. Yet fame has come at a price, as his much-publicised failed relationship with Tatum O'Neil bears testimony. The latter part of the book, when he stops playing tennis, was less enthralling but interesting nonetheless.
You'll like him.
Ian Rankin, Orion, 2002
A book of short stories has to be very good to be good. All too often one or two in the
collection aren't up to the mark.
It is also a harder art. Most authors require time
in order to fully immerse the reader.
A writer of short stories
does not have this luxury, and hence the descriptions and characterisations have to be that much better.
It is therefore rare for a collection of short stories as well written as Rankin's
'Beggars Banquet' to emerge.
There are 21 in all, 8 of
which are Detective Inspector Rebus stories for the die-hard Rankin fans who have grown up on the exploits of the Scottish policeman.
It has been some ten years since Rankin last wrote a
book of short stories 'A Good
Hanging', and many will question why it has taken so long to write another.
This is the ideal book for someone 'on the go' - waiting in an airport lounge, reading on the tube and so on.
If you are not a crime story lover then Rankin is probably not going to appeal, but his stories are diverse
with widely varying subjects, styles and settings.
Web site created by Mark Griffin