Two animals: one to love and one to admire and not love quite so much.
I spent the better part of three lovely days last week reading two new books, both of them true stories. One book was sent to me because I write a column. The second book I had ordered after reading about it in the New York Times. The books were Trooper: The Bobcat Who Came in from the Wild by Forrest Bryant Johnson and Tiger Woods by Jeff Benedict and Armen Keteyian.
Let’s start with Trooper. I’m so glad to have been sent this book.
Trooper is set in Las Vegas, and is so well written I felt as if I were a fly on the wall just observing everything.
Trooper was rescued as a kitten and even as a wild animal was successfully (and legally) kept as a family pet for 19 years. Johnson and his wife had a business giving desert tours, so the book is filled with information about the Mojave Desert and its residents. But mostly the book is about Trooper and the author’s many adventures (using up a couple of a cat’s nine lives in the process). The stories are told with compassion, humor and indeed, some tension as well. This is a read for all ages and of course, will have special significance to anyone who has owned an animal.
See if these words aren’t intriguing. Here is the book’s first sentence:
“To be trapped inside the bright yellow blossoms of a cholla cactus has to be one of the worst ways to die.”
I was hooked.
The sports news of the day is about The Masters golf competition. Tiger Woods, the athlete, is competing in the 2018 Masters. Tiger Woods, the biography, makes it very clear why Tiger is now O.K. telling reporters that although he may not be leading the competition, he is glad to be playing again.
Tiger Woods was written by Jeff Benedict, a special-features writer for Sports Illustrated (and author of 15 previous books) and Armen Keteyian, a CBS News correspondent, an Emmy Award winner and author of 10 previous books. Though the authors didn’t talk with Woods himself (and the book explains Woods’ reluctance on that front), research plus interviews with people around Woods have resulted in a no-holds-barred look at Woods’ life from childhood through adulthood and even covers news as recent as January of this year.
I could not put this book down. The book was, for me, an education. Reading about Woods’ unusual childhood and the influence of both parents were eye-openers as were stories of his incredible practice routines. Woods’ triumphs are catalogued in detail. His treatment of friends and business acquaintances are part of the picture. Las Vegas plays a role. And of course, Woods’ marriage, divorce, infidelities and drug problems add tabloid sizzle to what otherwise is an extraordinary life in sports. Here is what the authors’ say is the reason they wrote the book:
“Why tackle this project in the first place? Our answer is simple: Very few individuals are known throughout the world by one word. Tiger reached that exclusive club by being the greatest golfer — some would argue the greatest athlete — in modern history.. But his story transcends golf and his influence reached around the globe. Yet there has never been a comprehensive biography that offers a 360-degree look at Tiger’s entire life to date, one that closely examines his roots and the role his parents played in his epic rise, fall and return.”
The book is long, 407 pages, so indeed, it is comprehensive. The first words in this book are, “Barefoot and groggy, the most powerful athlete on the planet hid behind a locked bathroom door.”