McENROE: A Rage for Perfection by Richard Evans

McENROE: A Rage for Perfection

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Why He Is So Naughty--in 15 lifeless chapters of facile analysis. Would that Evans had so diligently pursued other, potentially more interesting (and less notorious) aspects of McEnroe: his food preferences, his social life, even his tennis playing. But no. Why, then, does McEnroe so behave? ""McEnroe's outbursts on court are almost always triggered by one of two things: his own imperfect play or what he considers to be an injustice."" Early on, his mother pushed him. ""He struggled to recognize the meaning of 'defeat'--a word he had never been taught as a child."" He has an ""Irish temper."" But, foremost: ""McEnroe's behavior is New York behavior. . . the result of too many rides on the subway with elbow-jabbers and seat-snatchers and strangers on the bus who let the door slam in your face--or worse."" Is ""yelling and screaming the only way to get things put right""? Evans is far from sure that it isn't. And so on--from McEnroe's 1959 birth to the present (interviews with headmaster and school chums included). Meanwhile, there's no follow-up on: McEnroe's dislike of practice (he seldom does); his habit of traveling and playing without a coach (rare in the top ranks); the specifics of his matches--aside from the bickering with officials; his (humanizing) friendship with Stacy Margolin. Under the brat exterior, Evans continually insists, there's real, intriguing human being; but he never gives us a chance to find out. A waste of time, even for fans.

Pub Date: Sept. 13th, 1982
Publisher: Simon & Schuster