Review: Andre The Giant - Closer To Heaven

Andre the Giant - Closer to Heaven

Andre the Giant: Closer to Heaven, illustrated by Denis Medri and written by Brandon Easton, is concise, tightly woven, and emotional account of one of the most revered wrestlers of all time. When I used to play wresting trump cards, Andre was one of the cherished cards, because he had an unbeatable height, and weight (coming in probably a close second to that of Yokozuna). And I and my brother had made discrete markings on the back of each card which would give away the other player's wrestler and we could select that criteria which would make us win.

But Andre's personal life, which forms the crux of this book, wasn't all that magnificent and larger than life, because he, after all, was just like us - a normal person with regular disappointments and desires. His story begins in France, where he grew up being stared at because of his height, but soon got used to it. He had to leave studies mid-way because his father wanted his help on the farm. But soon felt disillusioned by his life in a small, unknown farm and began wondering what lay ahead for him in this world, which seemed to grow smaller as he grew bigger.

And it wasn't long before he was 'discovered' by various promoters in France, Canada, USA, and Japan and lusted after by women, and eventually lost his way in a sea of beer. What he had in money, women, beer, and size, could not make up for what he didnt: a heart.

He grew way too fast for his heart and his doctor told him that he may not live beyond the age of forty. Acromegaly is what they call it. His heart wasn't keeping up to his size. It was difficult for him to accept it. Here he was living a life which people dream of, earning like a king in a week what others wouldn't see in a lifetime, but all this meant nothing if he wasn't living any longer.

The book is full of anecdotes about his fights with many famous wrestlers like Hulk Hogan, Bad News Allen, and others. He had numerous flings with countless women, but unknowingly had fathered a girl and that's what gave him a sense of belonging and happiness. His daughter, Robin Christensen Roussimoff, has written a touching foreword for the book.

You must read this one, it goes beyond the 'characters' which wrestlers are made out to be, touches the right tones, and brings forth Andre, the family man, who we knew nothing about. Richly illustrated and finely written.

Andre's memories remind me of my childhood, and he formed an important part of the the era when wrestling mattered to me much more than it does today. As Andre would say it, "Thank you, boss!"

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