I find myself in the frustrating position of having to review a book that I did not particularly enjoy but having absolutely no clue how to explain what I didn’t like about it. I can’t think of a single thing that the author could have done differently that would have improved the book for me. Except written about something else, perhaps.
It isn’t that I don’t know much about chess. The book isn’t particularly chess-intensive. It isn’t that it’s badly written, although Brady’s objectivity is a tad suspect. It isn’t that the subject matter isn’t interesting. Bobby Fischer’s wack-ass life is certainly fodder enough for a good read. I just didn’t enjoy reading about it. It was boring. It was frustrating. It was increasingly off-putting.
The fact that Fischer was not a particularly likable person, ever, doesn’t help, and by the end of his life he’d become an extremely UNlikable person. While Brady attempts to explain his behavior and give rationales for why Bobby was the way he was, it’s hard not to just view him as a total bastard, a diva, and a demanding egotist. Not that the biographies of such people can’t be interesting, in fact I’d venture to theorize that difficult people make for more interesting copy, it’s just that I didn’t find this biography interesting. I couldn’t tell you why it didn’t work for me. I can only tell you that it didn’t.