Is it possible to travel without leaving home? Is there a way to be a pilgrim without leaving your life behind? James Attlee answers that question in this thoughtful, savvy, and personal account of his pilgrimage to a place he thought he already knew—the Cowley Road in Oxford, right outside his door. Isolarion takes its title from a type of fifteenth-century map that isolates an area in order to present it in detail, and that’s what Attlee, sharp-eyed and armed with tape recorder and notebook, provides for Cowley Road. From a sojourn in a sensory-deprivation tank to a furtive visit to an unmarked pornography emporium, Attlee investigates every aspect of the Cowley Road’s appealingly eclectic culture, where halal shops abut craft jewelers and reggae clubs pulsate alongside quiet churchyards. Drawing inspiration from sources ranging from Robert Burton’s The Anatomy of Melancholy to contemporary art, Attlee is a charming and companionable guide who revels in the extraordinary embedded in the everyday.
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