Author: James Attlee
Date Released: 2008
Page Count: 298
Isbn10 Code: 0226030938
Isbn13 Code: 9780226030937
Review “I have written much about the streets of Oxford myself, but seldom so perceptively or interestingly as Attlee. Anyone who can drag Lucretius, Susanna, Bathsheba, and St. Jerome into a Cowley Road porn shop deserves our attention and admiration.”—Colin Dexter, OBE (Colin Dexter ) “I have never read a better book about Oxford—its oddities and eccentricities. The peripatetic local form of James Attlee’s delightful book makes it a storehouse of information as well as a joy to read for its wit and humor.”—John Bayley (John Bayley ) "A gem. . . . James Attlee''s scholarly, reflective and sympathetic journey up the Cowley Road is one of the best travel books that has been written about Britain''s oldest university city. It is not—at least not directly—the Oxford of punts and gowns. His raw material is diversity: the Cowley Road as a corner of the outside world, where change and excitement are squeezed into the cramped hinterland of the scholarly theme park of the city centre. . . . .The result blends a vivid account of daily life, fluid and unsettling, in a modern British town with powerful allegorical reflections on the connections between past and present, time and space, and high culture and the hard scrabble world that sustains it. Oxford may be the city of lost causes, and this book is indeed ambitious; it could easily sound sententious or twee. But it works, gloriously."—Economist (Economist ) "The fish-out-of water travelogue is a staple of the bookstore, but Attlee . . . has set himself a different task: to be the fish, and to give a detailed description of the properties of the water. . . . Attlee''s reading is deep and wide and engagingly circuitous, and this book frequently provides the delights of discovery that make any adventure worth undertaking."—Rebecca Mead, Bookforum (Rebecca Mead Bookforum ) "Attlee grabs our hand and drags us down Cowley Road in Oxford, determined to prove that it is not a stuffy, medieval, Masterpiece Theatre town. All the messy glories of Cowley Road—pubs and porn shops alike—come to life in this work, which becomes a meditation on home and the nature of pilgrimage."—National Geographic Traveler (National Geographic Traveler ) "In this offbeat, personal exploration of his city, James Attlee takes not only the historic colleges but the prosaic Cowley Road in east Oxford as his chosen map. . . . Isolarion, despite its title, is about engagement. Attlee shows the hidden beauty of the plural society: ''To put it simply, this is what I love about the moment in history I inhabit.''"--Isabel Berwick, Financial Times (Isabel Berwick Financial Times ) "The subtitle [of Isolarion] promises ''a different Oxford journey,'' one confining itself to the Cowley Road in east Oxford. The attraction, for Attlee, is that the Cowley Road ''is both unique and nothing special''; the resulting book is unique and very special. . . . Residents of East Oxford can be proud to have this eccentric advocated and eloquent explorer in their midst."--Geoff Dyer, Guardian (Geoff Dyer Guardian ) "[James Attlee] asks, ''Why make a journey to the other side of the world when the world has come to you?'' So he sets off with his tape-recorder and his sensibility and brings back memorable snapshots of some aspects of the road, interspersed with musings on what it all means. . . . It becomes clear that the author is a force for good when it comes to resisting the drive and the dismal dialect of modernisation. He is a good finder, also. . . . The influx of appreciative consumers kills off the thing they love by upping the property values beyond the reach of the immigrants on which it depends. To stiffen the sinews for the rearguard action every Oxonian should buy this book, which is nicely turned out by the Chicago Press."—Eric Christiansen, Spectator (Eric Christiansen Spectator ) "Attlee captures the essence of this city better than any tour bus ever could."—Paul Kingsnorth, Independent (Paul Kingsnorth Independent ) “Attlee paints an iridescent picture of a new Oxford that no guide book has yet captured.”—Richard B. Woodward, New York Times (Richard B. Woodward New York Times ) "Attlee''s encounters lead to thoughtful investigations of the human condition. . . . Through observation and comparison, of ritual, belief and family, Attlee reinforces the common needs of humanity. . . . In an age in which air travel opens up the world, and holidays are to escape the mundane, Attlee encourages us to look at the riches on our doorstep. . . . The end of our journey as humankind is not known, but Isolarion provides an invaluable guide to how to progress along the way." (Elizabeth Garner London Times ) "The vignettes, like marks on a painting by a pointillist, eventually coalesce to become a beautiful work of art." (Bruce Elder Sydney Morning Herald ) "It''s now a familiar story of the local versus the global; the tide of increasing uniformity as chains proliferate and streets succumb to banal prescriptions. . . . But Attlee tells the story vividly and well, and it''s a book that anyone concerned for the future of their own town''s Cowley Road could read with profit." (Andrew Mead Architect's Journal ) About the Author James Attlee works in art publishing in London and is the coauthor of Gordon Matta-Clark: The Space Between.
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