Book Review: Rafa , My Story
February 24, 2013 2 Comments
The book is a phenomenal piece of insight into how the mind of Rafael Nadal, one of the most brilliant athletes to play the game of Tennis, works. The single minded focus with which he pursues the strategy, and the ability to execute what is often discussed in the war room on the field, that’s what makes Rafa special. Some may find it obtuse, but I have a feeling that one of these days, if Rahul Dravid were to expose the inner workings of his mind as candidly as Rafael Nadal does (has done), we would see how similar these two might be.
The book is written in two voices – one of Rafa himself, as he goes through “the final” against Federer – the first Wimbledon victory. The second is of the editor/author John Carlin. The chapters alternate with Rafa’s voice getting you as close to being inside Rafa’s mind as is possible (from the vantage point of the wimbledon final), and a third party narrative of how Rafa became what he is. The fans of Rafael Nadal may worship the book, while the non-fans would enjoy only about 30% of it.
Rafa’s narrative (half the book) is erratic and at the same time, so ruthlessly honest that you get a ringside view of the match, his mindset, his preparation, and his work ethics. The section has no literary value, no profoundness in the form of overbearing statements that every pack of jokers will claim to be their trump card. It’s a simpleton’s explanation of (probably) his biggest triumph, the victory of doggedness and mental strength over sublime talent.
Carlin’s narrative, on the other hand, is bland. It touches on several key aspects of Nadal’s career, but the focus on his relationship with his uncle Toni, the closely knit Nadal family, and his relationship with the world around him are barely scratched. The book steers away from almost all controversies, has nothing negative to say about anyone really. What one finds at the end of it is a warrior competitive to his core, who’s polished his swordsmanship talent by being in the arena for hours and days. And a gentleman. However, despite being bland and full of cliches, this is the part that reveals Nadal, the person, better than Nadal, the athlete compared to the other section..
If you don’t enjoy the sport, the chances are that you won’t like the book. It’s not a Mein Kampf, or My experiments with truth, which have a meaning for everyone. Rafa- An Autobiography, written halfway through Rafael Nadal’s career, is an enjoyable read, but not a great work of philosophy, as most awesome biographies/ autobiographies have the potential to be.