Mad John

Gabriele Annan

  • McEnroe: Taming the Talent by Richard Evans
    Bloomsbury, 216 pp, £14.99, June 1990, ISBN 0 7475 0618 3

This is Richard Evans’s second book on McEnroe. The Struwwelpeter of tennis is now 31 and No 4 in the international ratings. The first book, McEnroe: A Rage for Perfection, came out eight years ago when McEnroe was 23 and rated No 1. The new book belongs to the genre of defensive biography. It is as though Oliver had written a life of Roland: the wise, steady friend standing up for the brilliant, wayward hero. The comparison may sound pretentious, but then Evans compares McEnroe to Coriolanus and Julius Caesar, with quotations from Shakespeare and from Peter Levi on Shakespeare. He uses adjectives like ‘pavonine’, and describes McEnroe’s style as pointilliste – rather a good idea, except that it leads to an analysis of pointillism: ‘tiny jabs of colour executed with the deft touch of a true artist’.

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