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Rafa

April 7, 2012

I finally finished reading ‘Rafa’ – the semi-autobiography of Rafael Nadal. This was a book I had expected to get through in one sitting, but it took me almost a week to get through it. And at the end of it, I get the feeling that there is something missing still.

Little history – I’m not a huge fan of tennis. I’ve probably watched a few matches but through the decades, there has always been one player that captured my imagination. This could be after they had retired or while they were just budding… but while the entire world around me was supporting Federer, I was rooting for Nadal. Was it just the underdog issue or just his playing style, I don’t know. As I said, I can’t really speak much about tennis and styles.

But I was curious about his autobio. Well, co-authored autobio. It struck me as a little arrogant to write your story when the story is still going on, professionally at least. And it went against everything that I did know about Rafa, which is he is intensely private etc.

The book seemed clinical. The story is told in fits and starts and never gets a feel of a ‘story’. It reads like a scorecard and I saw more passion on court than in the story. The book, unfortunately ends just when the flow starts.

A biography of any sort takes you into the heart of a story. There is drama, there is comedy and there is honesty. I loved Andre Agassi book, even with all its references to tennis and the matches and the hate of the game.

I cannot put my finger on what exactly went wrong with Rafa’s book but I guess I’m not going to reading anything more about him anytime soon.

***

To continue on the same note about biographies, what makes one better than the other? Everyone has a story, some just tell it better than the others.

The first biography I ever read was about Katherine Hepburn. Not Audrey Hepburn. It read like a novel, rich in drama, flair and comedy. I was completely drawn in by the book, even though I had no idea who Katherine Hepburn was.

There have been very few books that have made such an impact since then.

Scar Tissue (RHCP); The Diary of Anne Frank (Which is in a genre of its own, actually); I know Why Caged Birds Sing (Maya Angelou) are some…

 
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