IN&OUTTONIGHT REVIEWS 26 Tuesday, 10 November 2009 London Lite T ricky thing tennis, a bit like golf: if you dont play it, you probably dont get it. Not to worry, grand-slammer Andre Agassi changes all this with a near faultless sex, drugs and rocknroll account of his career. Like all sporting talents, he started young. So young that he nicknamed his ball delivery machine the Dragon (he was only seven). His father sounds like the real dragon, though, telling his seven year-old that if i hit 2,500 balls each day, ill hit 17,500 balls each week, and at the end of the year ill have hit one million balls. Honestly, whats wrong with sitting your child in front of the TV with a McDonalds? However, to the victor the spoils. its this intensity of spade work that sees Agassi slug his way to the top of his trade. An American Boris Becker without the cupboard fetish, a Bjrn Borg with personality. A little too much personality. After a night out with tennis legend John McEnroe, the hungover Agassi has to play a Davis cup match behind a pair of Oakley sun- glasses. The resulting publicity sees the chairman of Oakley send Agassi a present. Guess what? A pair of shades? A T-shirt bearing the com- panys logo? Nope, a red Dodge Viper. its not all serves, sunglasses and sports cars, though. There are women along the way. Try Brooke Shields (it ends in tears), or what about Steffi Graf? Not bad for a geek with no hair. its hair loss that provides one of the most hilarious incidents in the book. Left in charge of his infant son Jaden for the first time, what does Agassi decide to do? Obvious, shave his head to create a mini-me. His wifes Teutonic reac- tion upon finding her lovely son with a completely bald head is a warning to any- one thinking of marrying a German. The tennis bits arent half bad, either. Theres Agassis point-by-point accounts of gladiatorial epics, and the by now infamous i-took-drugs admission. imagine, if you will, the scene at the book publish- ers HQ. Um, Mr Agassi, cant you think of any skeletons in the cupboard? Something that will separate your sports biog from the regular rubbish we put out in time for christmas? Agassi: Well, there was that time i hoofed up a line of crystal meth, will that do? yes it most certainly will do. An ace autobiography. REVIEWSBOOKS Agassiserves upasmasher Martinestaleofadulteryfails toearnourfaithinhertalents Give me another shot: crystal meth-imbibing tennis star Andre Agassi in his hairy heyday WAR Escape From Baghdad ByJamesAshcroft(VirginBooks,18.99) HHHHH BASED on true events, this chronicles the adventures of private military contractor James Ash Ashcroft in iraq. When the former British Army infantry captain finds out his old interpreter Sammy is on a Shia death list, he assembles a team of tough men to try to rescue him. While the Americans help them with some serious military equipment, they cant get involved for political reasons and so Ash and co take on suicide bombers and the corrupt iraqi police on their own. Sammy and his family are driven across Baghdad in a race for the Jordanian border that will take them through Fallujah -- the most dangerous city in the world. readers who like big guns and adrenaline-buzzed adventure will love the second outing for Ashcroft and co-writer clifford Thurlow, after their 2006 thriller Making A killing. Nuggets of political insight are woven through this page-turning adventure that is head and shoulders above the other military memoirs hitting the shelves this christmas. FIONA HEDGES ON A peaceful autumn day, a small American town is imprisoned by an invisible dome. When the inhabitants of Chesters Mill realise they are trapped, they reveal their true colours. Big Jim Rennie, who had been running an illegal drugs factory, tries to seize control of the town and run it for his own gain. He is joined by weaker characters who do as theyre told and no-hopers who like the power theyre given. Their enemy is former military man Dale Barbie Barbara, a drifter who was about to leave the town when the dome appeared. With a ragtag crew including a doctor, a journalist and some skateboarders, Barbie tries to do whats best for the people of the town. King establishes more than 100 compelling characters in this sci-fi epic. He has said that he first attempted to write the novel in the Eighties but couldnt quite get it right. He was right to wait. This is King at his absolute best. MAX THURLOW WHEN Fran, a struggling actress with only a bit- part in an insurance ad to her name takes a job as PA to a Hollywood celeb, she hopes it will lead her to bigger and better things. But instead of giving her a career leg-up, her boss/slave-mistress works her half to death and forces her to sacrifice her friends and her beloved. The story is based loosely on the authors own experiences as PA/dogsbody/carer to a star -- and no, she wont say who -- which, if even half of it is true, means Miss Forte deserves a medal. JANE MULKERRINS Me And Miss M ByJemimaForte (Penguin,6.99) Newpaperbacks CHICK-LIT The Mistress ByMartineMcCutcheon(Pan,7.99) HHIII SODS lAW, Sam leith tells us, is the one that governs us: Search your soul. You have that belief. And here, told with crisp wit, are umpteen stories in which this law reigns supreme. A hunter is shot, with his own gun, by an animal -- a snake, would you believe. A general tells his troops: They couldnt hit an elephant at this dist... An office worker survives the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and returns to his home town to recuperate. His home town is Nagasaki. WILLIAM LEITH Sods Law BySamLeith (Atlantic,7.99) MAry BEArD is a classics don at Newnham, an all-female college in cambridge, and this is a selection of her blog posts. it reads really well. She lets you into her world, which is rather cosy but also rather sharp. She is a woman of fine distinctions. She loves argument and precision. Theres a lovely passage about Enoch Powells famous rivers of blood speech -- Powell seems to have misunderstood the true meaning of his quotation from Virgil. And Beard writes extremely well about exams. WL Its A Dons Life ByMaryBeard (Profile,8.99) THE BIG READ Open: An Autobiography ByAndreAgassi(HarperCollins,20) HHHHH JAMES ANTHONY SCI-FI Under The Dome ByStephenKing(Hodder&Stoughton,19.99) HHHHH DiMplE-CHEEKED Tiffany Mitchell from Albert Square, aka Hugh Grants button-nosed love, Actually co-star, aka the cockney doll who trod West End boards as Eliza Doolittle, has written a book. And -- as youll know if youve seen the promo snaps of Martine McCutcheon draped seductively across a chaise longue in a neglige fit to make lady GaGa blush -- its not all sweetness and freckles but rather raunchy. Although with a title like The Mistress, McCutcheon has prepped us for her debut novel perhaps involving a bit of fumbling between the sheets. locking eyes with married father-of- two Jake at her 30th birthday party at The Wolseley, our party planner protagonist Mandy embarks on a saucy affair. Naturally, things go a bit wonky in Adulteryland and she realises, too late, being a mistress was not what it had been cracked up to be (quite where Mandy unearthed this glowing appraisal of life as a bit-on-the-side is not explained). The prose is as throwaway as a one-night stand, the prolific celeb name-dropping and product placement the literary equivalent of prostitution. The slight curve ball ending wins points for originality, but otherwise this novel has all the literary flair of a teapot. MARTHA DE LACEY Lit chick: Martine McCutcheon index.html2.html3.html4.html5.html6.html7.html8.html9.html10.html11.html12.html13.html14.html15.html16.html17.html18.html19.html20.html21.html22.html23.html24.html25.html26.html27.html28.html29.html30.html31.html32.html33.html34.html35.html36.html37.html38.html39.html40.html41.html42.html43.html