Thursday, May 03, 2012

Book Review of Imperfect by Jim Abbot and Tim Brown

Imperfect: An Improbable Life
by Jim Abbot and Tim Brown
ISBN 978-0345523259
Ballentine Books
Reviewed by Clint and Jennifer Walker

Sports biographies are notoriously difficult books to write well. This is especially true with sports autobiographies. If the athlete says too much about their career accomplishments, it can sound like bragging. If they share the details of all the games they played, it can sound too much like shop talk, and be hard to relate to. Athletes can also share too much about themselves, and expose themselves to unecessary public ridicule. Who can forget Wilt Chamberlain's braggadocio about how many women he had sex with? Furthermore, many athletes, even with a co-author, do not know how to understand their lives as story, and communicate their journey with drama and intelligence.

Jim Abbott avoids many of these pitfalls in his book. Alternating between telling the story of his perfect game as a pitcher for the New York Yankees, and stories of his upbringing and how his parents raised him to accept and believe in himself, Abbot communicates a lot about who he was, who he is, and the journey that he continues to be on. Even avid fans of Abbot will perhaps find new parts of his story that inspire them to be more than they thought they could be. Abbot is honest about his struggles without sounding like a coward. The idea of using his experience as a pitcher with an imperfect body pitching a perfect game as a metaphor for his life is a master stroke.

Having said all of this, despite its inspirational quality, there are parts of the book that do drag along. The book could have used some better pacing to keep grabbing the readers attention. But then again...I could say the same about the sport of baseball in general. So it could just be me...

Other than that, this was a good book, and a book I would not mind passing on to a friend, or recommending it to the people I know that really love baseball.

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