Over at the Times, Janet Maslin reviews a new biography of Bobby Fischer by Frank Brady:
“Endgame” is a rapt, intimate book, greatly helped by its author’s long acquaintance with Fischer, who died in 2008, and his deep grounding in the world of chess. Mr. Brady was the founding editor of Chess Life, the official magazine of the United States Chess Federation, but his book is entirely accessible to readers who have never heard of that publication. Nor does “Endgame” require any prior knowledge of chess luminaries, chess strategies (no charts here) or chess tournament etiquette. It requires no expertise to appreciate a one-liner like the one the 19-year-old Fischer delivered after a visit to a brothel in Curaçao. “Chess is better,” Fischer said.
Mr. Brady, a biographer dangerously drawn to megalomania (he has also written books about Aristotle Onassis and Orson Welles), takes a demystifying approach to Fischer’s eccentricities. He sees the person behind the bluster, and he presents that person in a reasonably realistic light. Mr. Brady also makes use of unusually good source material, from Fischer’s own unpublished manuscript to 50 years’ worth of his own conversations with Fischer’s associates, mentors and relatives. Note the omission of the word “friends.” Fischer never had them.
Fischer was a genius as well as a madman. Do yourself a favor and check out Bill Nack’s terrific SI piece on his search for the reclusive Fischer: “To find him, to see him, had become a kind of crazy and delirious obsession, the kind of insanity that has hounded other men in search of, say, the Loch Ness monster.”
[Photo Credit: Times On-Line]