The Tennis Partner by Abraham Verghese-You Better Like Tennis Before the Read


The Tennis Partner" by Abraham Verghese-You Better Like Tennis Before the Read

Well I don't know much about tennis but I do know a bit about Abraham Verghese. He'd written a prior best-seller: "Cutting for Stone" and we must first state an admiration for Verghese's writing ability.

This is the second Verghese choice from one of my book club attendees and frankly I don't see the allure.

"When Abraham Verghese, a physician whose marriage is unraveling, relocates to El Paso, Texas, he hopes to make a fresh start as a staff member at the county hospital. There he meets David Smith, a medical student recovering from drug addiction, and the two men begin a tennis ritual that allows them to shed their inhibitions and find security in the sport they love and with each other. This friendship between doctor and intern grows increasingly rich and complex, more intimate than two men usually allow. Just when it seems nothing can go wrong, the dark beast from David's past emerges once again, and almost everything Verghese has come to trust and believe in it threatened as David spirals out of control.

The above pretty well sums it up but it is, of course, more complicated than it seems.

The book is written in the first person but it's not clear if this story is a real experience of Mr. Verghese or is a fictionalized story using Verghese's real name is the protagonist.

As my headline quips and the book title shouts, this is a story of tennis.

David Smith and Abraham Verghese are both avid tennis players and it is through this sport that the two tennis aficionados make the male bonding connection.

It's an anguishing tale that will have the reader, yes I'll admit it, turning pages to see how it all turns out.

It doesn't turn out all that well.

Still it's a hell of a story told in that compelling Verghese narrative style:
"At the club, David's game was playful, effortless, teasing me with angles and drop shots. I hit a vicious backspin drop shot. He ran from behind the baseline to dig it out just before it touch the ground a second time, in the process losing his balance, almost falling over, dropping his racket. I had to come to the net too, and ball sat up for me; I popped it right at his belly."

It wasn't a boring read. It wasn't rock 'em and sock 'em either.

It is, simply, a modest length book that will serve well on a rainy day when a good game of tennis is not possible.

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