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The Man Within My Head Paperback – January 22, 2013
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It may be that Iyer’s beautifully contoured sentences embody all the landscapes he’s absorbed as he’s traveled the world, pen in hand. Iyer is always present in his celebrated books (The Open Road, 2008), but never to the extent he is here in this captivating memoir of an unsought, often unnerving affinity. As he recounts indelible moments in his wandering, multicultural life and contemplates solitude and family, travel in “difficult and impoverished countries,” and passionate literary immersions, Iyer painstakingly maps his obsession with writer Graham Greene. Why has Greene “lived vividly” inside him? Iyer offers a unique perspective on Greene’s groundbreaking books and empathically renders Greene’s contrariness, prescience, covert compassion, and fascinating life. He concludes, “At heart, he offered me a way of looking at things, and the way one looked became a kind of theology.” Ultimately, Iyer’s profound inquiry leads him to a fresh elucidation of his feelings for his late philosopher father. Iyer’s deep-diving expedition also illuminates the mystery and spirit of the literary imperative: “A writer is a palmist, reading the lines of the world.” --Donna Seaman --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
“Resonates deeply…In the hands of a lesser writer, the dueling father figures would dissolve into melodrama, but Iyer weaves them brilliantly.” –Publishers Weekly
“[Iyer] is a wonderful wordsmith, and he provides engaging stories.” –Kirkus
“It may be that Iyer’s beautifully contoured sentences embody all the landscapes he’s absorbed as he’s traveled the world, pen in hand. Iyer is always present in his celebrated books, but never to the extent he is here in this captivating memoir of an unsought, often unnerving affinity…Iyer’s deep-diving expedition also illuminates the mystery and spirit of the literary imperative: ‘A writer is a palmist, reading the lines of the world.’” –Booklist
“A contemplative, idiosyncratic book, a kind of side trip that diverges from the routes of Iyer’s usual writing…as “The Man Within My Head” demonstrates, there’s fellowship to be found in the community of eloquent strangers, an eternal literary companionship.” –The New York Times Book Review
“A courageous, intriguing book, perhaps better described generically not as a memoir but a confession.” –The New York Review
“As Iyer investigates Greene’s life, he finds more parallels with his own, some superficial and some profound, which Iyer susses out in his usual composed, flowing prose.” –The Daily Beast
“Iyer’s rich and provocative book invites us to see the world in which we find ourselves today in a new and revealing light, and that’s the real measure of his accomplishment. ‘A writer is a palmist, reading the lines of the world,’ Iyer says of Greene, but he could be describing himself just as well.” –JewishJournal.com
“[Iyer] is masterful at describing travel…a rewarding read.” –Livemint.com
“This book is an original, a literary feat, a kind of counter-biography and shadow-autobiography. I can’t think of another quite like it...The Man Within My Head is Iyer’s richest, wisest book to date.” –The Hindu
“Iyer writes admiringly and persuasively about Greene in ways that the novelist may have approved…an engrossing read.” –Commenweal Magazine
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Top customer reviews
"[T]here is a mystery, fundamental and unanswerable, in ourselves as in the world around us, which is in fact a part of what gives life its sense of hauntedness", Iyer writes. It is this sense of hauntedness that Greene captures in his novels and makes them meaningful to Iyer. Through Iyer's exquisite writing we learn here not only about Greene, but also about Iyer, a man who lives between cultures. We also learn about ourselves through his ruminations. What more could any reader ask?
Especially if you are also a reader of Graham Greene you will enjoy this book. If you have enjoyed Pico Iyer's other travels through the worlds his mind has encountered, you will get something out of this too.
The description of his British boarding school was very illuminating for me. The playing off of the impact of both his father and Graham Greene on Iyer's life is wonderfully well done.
reading him. I'm re-reading all the Greene books I have as I read the Iyer book. It's so nice to hear what Mr. Iyer has to say
about each book and then read it for myself. I love it all.