I've received several comments and e-mails over the past few weeks from people asking me if I have read Bret Hart's autobiography, Hitman.

The answer is no. In fact, I have treated the book the way some people treat a toothache: If I ignore it, maybe it will just go away.


My plan, however, went awry last week. I walked into the Sports department at The Baltimore Sun and found a surprise waiting for me at my desk. As you have probably already guessed, it was a copy of Hitman. The publishing company had sent a copy to the newspaper for review consideration.

Now that I can no longer pretend it doesn't exist, I have to decide whether or not to read it.

It's not that I think the book is without merit. Obviously, someone of Hart's stature in the business has quite a story to tell, and I have read that Hart worked meticulously on it for years. Hitman has gotten rave reviews and some have even referred to it as the best wrestling autobiography there is (or was or ever will be).

The reason that I have avoided it is because, in all honesty, I have some negative preconceived notions about it. Hitman is 549 pages long, and I just don't know that I want to invest a lot of time into what I presume will be a depressing, angry narrative.

While I have a tremendous amount of respect for Hart's accomplishments in the business and his work ethic, I think he takes himself much too seriously, and since his in-ring career ended, he often comes across as bitter and petty. Those traits were on display a couple months ago when he went off on a wrestling writer while giving the induction speech for his late father at the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame ceremony.

Out of curiosity, I began flipping through the pages of Hitman. After skimming several chapters, I admit that I was intrigued. The candid tales of debauchery on the road, his thoughts on various angles and his interaction with famous wrestling figures are compelling to say the least.

But the more I read, the more the book validated my preconceived notions. While he doesn't always portray himself in the best light, there are examples of vitriol and self-righteousness in his writing.

For example, on the next-to-last page of the book, Hart writes this about Vince McMahon: "Sadly cheaters do prosper and even become billionaires. The world's full of them, and maybe that's why we need heroes who don't gage success with dollars." It's interesting that he labels McMahon a "cheater" even though Hart admits to being a serial cheater during his marriage.

Hart's inability to move past his bitterness is exemplified on the book's last page. He writes: "To me, Shawn [Michaels] will always be a phony, a liar and a hairless yellow dog. …I'll never forgive Shawn, or Hunter [Triple H], for killing the business that so many of us gave our lives for."

With all of that being said, however, I have come to the conclusion that an in-depth autobiography by of one of wrestling's biggest stars is a must-read for any serious fan. So, I am going to read it. And if at any point I am turned off by what I'm reading, I will just turn the page and move on.

It would be great if someday Bret Hart could do the same.