By Pico Iyer
Alfred A. Knopf, $25.95, 238 pages
The Man Within My Head by Pico Iyer is a memoir wrapped inside a semi-biographical glimpse into the life and literature of Graham Greene. The premise is that we all carry people inside our heads who sometimes seem closer to us than the people we know, and for Iyer the voice is of author Graham Greene. The attachment to Greene was not consciously chosen by Iyer and seems more of a pre-destined curse at times. Greene becomes almost a father figure on Iyer’s dreamy road trip through life, which resembles a Castanedan journey beginning as a student in the English public school system – same as Greene – and progressing into writing while traveling across the globe to Cuba, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Bolivia and many other places. His travels possess amazing mystical synchronicity, where it seems every road leads to a city or a house where Greene had once been. In fact, Iyer could have named his book “Six Degrees of Separation From Greene”. Although, at times, it is vexing in its tendency to come off as an indulgent study into the life of the privileged, the reader is helplessly riveted to the narrative of Iyer’s struggle to understand himself within the soul of a famous writer. In the end, the beautifully-wrought prose makes it impossible to put down.
Reviewed by Diane Prokop