Tuesday 20 August 2019

A seriously good read from the first bad boy of tennis

'But Seriously'
'But Seriously'

Book review - Dean Goodison

When Larry David's HBO comedy 'Curb Your Enthusiasm' hit the screens this side of the Atlantic, it did so to critical acclaim but gathered just a cult following. It's not your typical comedy, with no recycled jokes and no fake studio laughing; instead it's ad-lib with only scripted guidelines.

It's not everyone's cup of tea, which is probably because the toe-curling cringyness of some of the situations lead man Larry gets himself into cut a bit close to the bone. We've all made a fool of ourselves at some stage and we don't like reminders.

Pretty much every episode of 'Curb' is a piece of comedy gold and it's well worth going back to the start if you're not familiar with the show. While some guest stars won't be that well known to an Irish audience, there's no mistaking the curly locks of John McEnroe in season six.

The former tennis star, winner of seven Grand Slam singles titles and nine doubles, stars as himself. Unlike that Jim Carrey movie that Anna Kournikova pretty much ruined with her 20-second cameo, McEnroe is an entertaining presence on screen and it's well worth googling even that single episode.

It comes as somewhat of a relief to hear McEnroe himself say in his new book 'But Seriously' that his cameo in 'Curb' was one of his favourite showbiz jobs. The organic nature of the show just wouldn't be as appealing if it didn't live up to billing behind the camera.

'Curb' is just one of his many forays into the Hollywood world that McEnroe talks about in this follow up to his first autobiography 'Serious', which came out in 2003. Much like Tony Adams' book last week, the fact that it's set in his years after retiring makes this book a fantastic read.

McEnroe does dip into old rivalries but this publication is heavily based on what he has done in the last 13 or 14 years. Family is important to the New York native, son of a strong, Irish-American father, and that blasts off the pages from the book.

'But Seriously' doesn't strictly stick to a chronological order of events but in general it does follow that pattern. It dips into McEnroe the seniors tennis player, the commentator, the game show host, the chat show presenter, and the art dealer.

The man has so many interests that it hardly comes as a surprise that the reader is constantly entertained. There are some sad stories along the way but McEnroe doesn't dwell on them. It's also brutally honest, as he talks in depth about his fractured relationship with his sons, Kevin and Seán.

There are several mentions of Serena Williams and what would happen if the two played (this reviewer thinks Serena would hammer the old man!). Those interludes, McEnroe's belief that she would rank somewhere around 700 in the men's game, as well as Williams' Twitter response, have conveniently given great publicity to the book.

If you are one of those people that prefer the heavily sport-filled books, with descriptions of great matches and majors success, this is not what you are looking for. This is a book for someone who wants to know what makes the man behind the persona tick.

This book will likely sit in the sports section but it's more all-encompassing than that, it's simply an interesting part-autobiography from cover to cover. It's for the sports reader that likes to learn about the greats but is never a turn-off for the person that has little interest in racquets and balls. It's hard to believe that anybody will regret buying 'But Seriously'.

Visit The Book Centre on Wexford's Main Street for the very best selection of sports books.

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