Monday, April 17, 2017

West by West

Regular readers of my blog and book reviews know that I've commented about my tendency to think and even sometimes speak in a way similar to how a book I'm reading is written. So if I am reading a book by comic writer Dave Barry I sometimes hear myself speaking in his cadence.  A mystery has me thinking about clues in every day life.  It is a strange idiosyncrasy and is certainly not done on a conscious level.

I just finished a very good autobiography by Jerry West, the basketball great. Sports fans collecting social security certainly remember West.  Even youngsters who follow sports know about him.  He was a great player at West Virginia University and then went on to play on the amateur dream team in the 1960 Rome Olympics.  Professionally, West played on the great Laker teams throughout the 60s and early 70s. It was his misfortune to play at the same time that the Boston Celtics had Bill Russell. The Celtics defeated the Lakers six times in the NBA finals. After his playing days West became a successful basketball executive.

This is no typical sports autobiography.  It is titled West by West: My Charmed Tormented Life.  If the autobiography is accurate then the subtitle is right on target.  West by his own admission is a tormented depressed person who is an impatient perfectionist.  He has not been able to get through the death of a brother nor the abuse of his father.  No matter his achievements in college, the Olympics, the NBA as a player, and the NBA as a general manager--he is troubled, sad, filled with self doubt.

One thinks of professional athletes--particularly Hall of Fame athletes--as people who are as rich spiritually as they are in their bank accounts.  Not the case with West.  And his book (co-written by Jonathan Coleman) depicts his multifaceted complex hell.

Very good book.  It helps if you are a sports fan because you will be familiar with West, but you don't really need to be that knowledgeable. More than about basketball, this is about a person, who cannot escape depression.

Given my tendencies to adopt the style and syntax of books I read, I have been a barrel of laughs to be around this weekend.

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