The Man Within My Head

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The Man Within My Head

by Pico Iyer

Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group | January 3, 2012 | Hardcover

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We all carry people inside our heads—actors, leaders, writers, people out of history or fiction, met or unmet, who sometimes seem closer to us than people we know.
 
In The Man Within My Head, Pico Iyer sets out to unravel the mysterious closeness he has always felt with the English writer Graham Greene; he examines Greene’s obsessions, his elusiveness, his penchant for mystery. Iyer follows Greene’s trail from his first novel, The Man Within, to such later classics as The Quiet American and begins to unpack all he has in common with Greene: an English public school education, a lifelong restlessness and refusal to make a home anywhere, a fascination with the complications of faith. The deeper Iyer plunges into their haunted kinship, the more he begins to wonder whether the man within his head is not Greene but his own father, or perhaps some more shadowy aspect of himself.
 
Drawing upon experiences across the globe, from Cuba to Bhutan, and moving, as Greene would, from Sri Lanka in war to intimate moments of introspection; trying to make sense of his own past, commuting between the cloisters of a fifteenth-century boarding school and California in the 1960s, one of our most resourceful explorers of crossing cultures gives us his most personal and revelatory book.

Format: Hardcover

Dimensions: 256 pages, 8.67 × 5.86 × 0.99 in

Published: January 3, 2012

Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 030726761X

ISBN - 13: 9780307267610

Found in: Biography and Memoir

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– More About This Product –

The Man Within My Head

by Pico Iyer

Format: Hardcover

Dimensions: 256 pages, 8.67 × 5.86 × 0.99 in

Published: January 3, 2012

Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 030726761X

ISBN - 13: 9780307267610

About the Book

Ever since he first read Graham Greene's work as a schoolboy, Iyer has been obsessed by the figure of the writer and by one of the great themes of Greene's work: what it means to be an outsider. Yet as Iyer recounts the history of his obsession, another phantom image begins to assert itself, one that Iyer had long banished from his inner life--that of his father.

Read from the Book

9 There were fires raging all across the hills around our house, and I was sitting in a downtown restaurant with my mother and Hiroko. I’d flown into Santa Barbara two days before, and, driving along the empty road that leads from the airport to our house ten minutes away, I’d looked up into the hills to where the lights of our home shine alone on our ridge, and my heart had stopped. There were two bright blazes of orange cutting through the darkness, with a speed and effi- ciency I remembered from the time when our home—in the same location—had burned down (with me beside it) some years before. I accelerated wildly up the hill and started taking the curves along the mountain road leading up to our solitary house at a crazy speed. The air to the north was already red and full of smoke—infernal—and as I pushed the car to go faster, I saw sightseers along the side of the road gathering to watch the unearthly light show, great towers of orange, a hundred feet high, rising from the valleys just below our home and smoke turning the sky into a sickly pall. I swerved, brakes screaming, into our driveway, and sum- moned my wife and mother out to see what was happening a mile or two away. It looked to be remote still, but I remem- bered how, during the previous fire, the flames had raced through the brush at seventy miles an hour, so that an orange gash in what looked to be a distant slope was suddenly a pillar of flames arcing over our living-room
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From the Publisher

We all carry people inside our heads—actors, leaders, writers, people out of history or fiction, met or unmet, who sometimes seem closer to us than people we know.
 
In The Man Within My Head, Pico Iyer sets out to unravel the mysterious closeness he has always felt with the English writer Graham Greene; he examines Greene’s obsessions, his elusiveness, his penchant for mystery. Iyer follows Greene’s trail from his first novel, The Man Within, to such later classics as The Quiet American and begins to unpack all he has in common with Greene: an English public school education, a lifelong restlessness and refusal to make a home anywhere, a fascination with the complications of faith. The deeper Iyer plunges into their haunted kinship, the more he begins to wonder whether the man within his head is not Greene but his own father, or perhaps some more shadowy aspect of himself.
 
Drawing upon experiences across the globe, from Cuba to Bhutan, and moving, as Greene would, from Sri Lanka in war to intimate moments of introspection; trying to make sense of his own past, commuting between the cloisters of a fifteenth-century boarding school and California in the 1960s, one of our most resourceful explorers of crossing cultures gives us his most personal and revelatory book.

About the Author

Pico Iyer has written nonfiction books on globalism, Japan, the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, and forgotten places, and novels on Revolutionary Cuba and Islamic mysticism. He regularly writes on literature for The New York Review of Books, on travel for the Financial Times, and on global culture and the news for Time, The New York Times, and magazines around the world.

Editorial Reviews

“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,
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