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Isolarion: A Different Oxford Journey by [Attlee, James]
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Isolarion: A Different Oxford Journey Kindle Edition

4.0 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Length: 298 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Review

"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

"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"

"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


“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

"“Attlee paints an iridescent picture of a new Oxford that no guide book has yet captured.”—Richard B."
--Richard B. Woodward "New York 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."--;i>Guardian"--Geoff Dyer "Guardian "

"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

"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 "

"[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 "

"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

"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 "

"Attlee captures the essence of this city better than any tour bus ever could."--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 "

"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 "

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"

"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 "

"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 "

"[James Attlee] asks, 'Why make a journey to the other side of the world when the world has come toyou?' 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 theauthor is a force for good when it comes to resisting the drive andthe dismaldialect 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 ""

" Attlee paints an iridescent picture of a new Oxford that no guide book has yet captured. "
--Richard B. Woodward "New York Times ""

National Geographic Traveler

"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."

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1282 KB
  • Print Length: 298 pages
  • Publisher: Transworld Digital (31 Aug. 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005F3GLV4
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Screen Reader: Supported
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #589,540 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Top customer reviews

Format: Hardcover
The Cowley Road area, aka East Oxford is Oxford's hotspot of cultural diversity, with migrants from almost every nation in the UN, and a diversity of shops to match. James Attlee, who lives in the area but works in London, so retains a somewhat detached perspective while being able to immerse himself, has recorded his impressions, experiences, and even hesitant attempts at involvement with local politics, under the leitmotiv of a "pilgrimage." His travel doesn't have to take him out into the world, he argues, as the world has come to the area where he happens to live.

The first of three parts is dominated by his reports, travel-writing style, of experiences he has sampled along the road - ranging from the Brazilian art gallery to the new-agey immersion pool. In the second and third part, musings on history, philosophy, religion take over, making the whole, as the author admits on the last page "as much an allegorical as a physical journey."

This is all quite fascinating for us who live less than a kilometre upstream from the start of Cowley Road, but seeing that the book was published by the University of Chicago Press, one does wonder what readers in Chicago may make of it. Even for us who know the territory, a map would have helped.

I'm sure the book is exactly as the author needed to write it in order to make sense of his experiences relating to the area where he lives. Personally, I might have liked it even more if he had been more of an explorer and less of a pilgrim. An explorer might have sampled all the diverse experiences on offer on the Cowley Road, from the mundane to the wildly exotic, a bit more systematically, maybe charting the course of the road completely, rather than escaping into philosophical asides.
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By D. Harris TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 25 April 2007
Format: Hardcover
From time to time one sees a book of a type for which there is no convenient classification. This is an example, a "place" book but not a "travel" book. In it, James Attlee explores Cowley Road in Oxford - a part of the city that visitors don't usually reach, but a vibrant and interesting one.

In a journey along and around the road, Attlee muses on the past, present and future, what has changed and what continues, while engaged with other residents in a struggle to stop proposed improvements from spreading blandness along it.

This is an excellent read, a book that made me, an occasional traveller along Cowley Road, consider my own response to it. It embodies a very clear sense of place. Overall, the sort of book one regrets coming to the end of.
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Format: Hardcover
The idea is brilliant - "Why go and see the world when it has come to you" - in other words see the world by looking at your local high street - in this case in Oxford

One of the best books I've reads in the last 10 years
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