On Being John McEnroe

On Being John McEnroe

by TimAdams (Author)


The greatest sports stars characterise their times. They also help to tell us who we are. John McEnroe, at his best and worst, encapsulated the story of the eighties. His improvised quest for tennis perfection, and his inability to find a way to grow up, dramatised the volatile self-absorption of a generation. His matches were open therapy sessions, and they allowed us all to be armchair shrinks. Tim Adams sets out to explore what it might have meant to be John McEnroe during those times, and in his subsequent lives, and to define exactly what it is we want from our sporting heroes: how we require them to play out our own dramas; how the best of them provide an intensity that we can measure our own lives by. Talking to McEnroe, his friends and rivals, and drawing on a range of reference, he presents a book that is both a fan's-eye portrait of the most vivid player ever to pick up a racket, and an original study of the idea of sporting obsession.


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More Information

Format: Hardcover
Pages: 144
Publisher: Yellow Jersey
Published: 05 Jun 2003

ISBN 10: 0224069616
ISBN 13: 9780224069618
Book Overview: Fan's eye view of one of tennis's most notorious stars, and an exploration into the idea of sporting obsession

Media Reviews
On Being John McEnroe is great . . . it's witty and smart, and has ideas about sport that don't strain for significance . . . My favorite McEnroe tirade, one I hadn't heard before: 'I'm so disgusting you shouldn't watch. Everybody leave!' --Nick Hornby
Full of pleasures. Adams writes beautifully, is strong on social context, and is sensible about psychological theorizing. Best of all, he does a fine job in re-creating those wonderful encounters between Mac and Borg, Mac and the umpires, Mac and the All-England Club establishment, Mac and the world. -- The Sunday Times
We got the official version of the life . . . from [ You Cannot Be Serious, ] McEnroe's punchy, if coy in places, autobiography. Now here's the theory--nine deft chapters and an epilogue in which Adams reflects on the nature of the fires flickering and flaring in McEnroe and the ways in which he defined and embodied his time. -- The Daily Telegraph
A brilliantly insightful essay about a tormented genius who found in tennis an expressionist art form. -- The Independent
[ On Being John McEnroe is] terrific. On one level, it's about the author's fascination with a tennis player. But it's much more than this; it's a book about how the world has changed in our lifetime. . . . This is a wonderful essay on individuality, as well as a cracking book about tennis. -- The New Statesman
Author Bio
Tim Adams has been an editor at Granta, and Literary Editor of the Observer, where he now writes full-time. An occasional tennis correspondent, and scratch parks player, he once lost in straight sets to Martin Amis, and served a whole game of double faults to Annabel Croft. He lives in London with his wife and daughter. This is his first book.