Literature, Reviews

Review: Attlee, Isolarion

jacket imageJames Attlee’s Isolarion: A Different Oxford Journey has been getting some great press lately. The latest review of this unconventional travelogue of the author’s sojourn on Oxford’s Cowley Road appears in the April/May issue of Bookforum. Rebecca Mead, staff writer at the New Yorker—and a former Oxford resident—writes:

The Cowley Road…is also home to Attlee, and it is the governing conceit of Isolarion: A Different Oxford Journey that an intellectually curious and personally inquisitive voyager might travel through his own neighborhood in a manner as revelatory as that of any pilgrim to foreign lands. The fish-out-of-water travelogue is a staple of the bookstore, but Attlee, a father of young children, with a job in London to which he commutes daily, has set himself a different task: to be the fish and to give a detailed description of the properties of the water. …

I was surprised, on reading this book … how much I missed while whistling down the street on my bike on my way to the library. But Attlee’s reading, unlike that of a student cramming to prepare this week’s essay, is deep and wide and engagingly circuitous.

Isolarion, Mead concludes, “reveals how a book about a road can end up being a book about everything else as well.”
Grab a copy of the print version of Bookforum to check out the rest of the review. In the meantime you can read an excerpt from the book on our website.