Review: Attlee, Isolarion
Oxford’s supposedly dreaming spires have been committed to print so often that you’d have thought there’d be nothing we don’t know about the city now. Yet James Attlee shows otherwise with a book about the last part of Oxford that remains colorful, wild, unpredictable and, for the moment, untouched by the dead hand of “regeneration.”…
Its subject, the Cowley Road, … is a ramshackle, multicultural mélange, the old track through the marshes between Oxford and Cowley village, now home to a mix of races and religions, strung with halal butchers, flotation centers, porn shops and pawn brokers, Chinese herbalists, Caribbean fishmongers, Russian grocers, pubs and mosques.… It’s my neighborhood, and I thought I knew it pretty well. But Isolarion has made me think, not just about local history and the hidden everyday, but about religion and philosophy, democracy and social change.
More than a day trip, Kingsnorth notes in Isolarion “Attlee’s aim is to make a pilgrimage: ‘Why make a journey to the other side of the world when the world has come to you?’… Attlee captures the essence of this city better than any tour bus ever could.”
Read an excerpt from the book.