Tuesday, January 24, 2023


My late friend Clive James was a prolific emailer. One of the trickiest things about corresponding with the great man was trying to recommend books to him that he hadn’t already read. It was like walking a tightrope, which you could fall off in two ways. 

One way was to recommend a book so well-known that you would look like a rube for thinking anyone hadn’t read it. The other danger lay in recommending something that was obscure for good reason – i.e., because it was tripe. 

I once thought I’d found the ideal needle-threading recommendation for him: Open, the 2009 autobiography of Andre Agassi. For starters, the book was freakishly good ...