‘The Man Within My Head’: Pico Iyer’s unlikely muse

By by Martin Rubin San Francisco Chronicle

Acclaimed travel writer Pico Iyer examines his lifelong obsession with British author Graham Greene in his new memoir "The Man Within My Head." It’s always interesting when an author wants to tell you about the writer who holds a special place in his imagination. And when it’s Pico Iyer taking you deep inside his head and heart to explain his obsession with Graham Greene, you can be sure that you’re in for a fascinating and also a very worthwhile experience.

Anyone who has thought so much about a man and his works for that many decades is bound to come up with something of value, and Iyer, as anyone who has read his books will know, may be counted on to use his unusual sensibility and sensitivity to people and their place to deliver some unique insights.

As befits its title, "The Man Within My Head" is a profoundly personal book. There’s no doubt that the eponymous man is Greene, but then there is Iyer’s philosopher father, who might lay at least some claim. Yet what really makes it personal is the extent to which Iyer — a writer in his way as enigmatic as Greene and perhaps, before this book, at any rate, even shyer about self-revelation — exposes himself as never before. Often this is to compare and contrast himself with Greene, but not always. And the result is an incomparable look behind the veils and the curtains that have hidden Iyer, the peripatetic observer, as he surveys the world in his travels.

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