Literature, Reviews

Review: Attlee, Isolarion

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Another Chicago book has found its way into the New York Times, only this time it wasn’t among the usual Sunday book reviews, instead it was hiding out in the travel section of the paper. Reviewing Isolarion: A Different Oxford Journey, for the NYT’s “Armchair Traveler” column, Richard B. Woodward gives a nice account of the making of James Attlee’s unconventional new travelogue:

Stricken with ennui during commutes to his publishing job in London, [Attlee] was tempted to set out on an adventure far outside cellphone range of his wife and children. Instead, he put his tape recorder in his pocket, walked out the front door, and embarked on a voyage around his Oxford neighborhood.
“Why make a journey to the other side of the world when the world has come to you,” he reasons. Recording not the hallowed academic haven of dreaming spires, but the more recent and fractious multicultural city, he decides that this less venerated England is best seen on Cowley Road, an ancient thoroughfare that once led pilgrims from the colleges to a medieval healing well, and is now home to immigrants from five continents.

As a document of the author’s fascinating journey, Isolarion takes its readers down one of the lesser known back streets of Oxford, a place just minutes from Attlee’s own home, but one that he reveals to be just as exciting and full of surprises as a trip around the world.
Read an excerpt.