The Man Within My Head by Pico Iyer

The Man Within My Head

We all carry people inside our heads—actors, leaders, writers, people out of history or fiction, met or unmet, who sometimes seem closer to us than people we know.   In The Man Within My Head, Pico Iyer sets out to unravel the mysterious closeness he has always felt with the English writer Graham Greene; he examines Greene’s obsessions, his elusiveness, his penchant for mystery. Iyer follows Greene’s trail from his first novel, The Man Wi...

Details The Man Within My Head

TitleThe Man Within My Head
Release DateJan 3rd, 2012
GenreNonfiction, Travel, Autobiography, Memoir, Biography, Biography Memoir

Reviews The Man Within My Head

  • Janet
    Just bought this book through Indiebound, just got the phone call, it's in!!!! WOO HOO!!! STAY TUNED**************I had been looking forward to reading this since I met Iyer several years ago at the LA Festival of Books. He was touring with the Dalai Lama book, but what we spoke about was Graham Greene, and the book he wanted to write. A great conversation, far ranging--we talked about Maugham and Greene and Chandler and Anthony Burgess, Long Day...
  • Jim
    It is always interesting when an author like Pico Iyer succeeds in channeling another author, in this case Graham Greene. The Man Within My Head deals with Iyer's lifelong obsession with Greene, an author he never actually met. Yet there were intersecting points and interesting parallels in their respective lives. A Tamil, Iyer was especially drawn to Greene's The Quiet American, about the encounter between a world-weary Brit and an idealistic Am...
  • Janis
    The Man Within My Head is an examination of Graham Greene’s role in the author’s life (a man he’s never met but whose novels remarkably intersect with Iyer’s experiences and inner life). It’s about Greene’s life, Iyer’s life, and the life of the author’s father, about the themes of Greene’s work (foreignness, displacement, innocence, detachment) and much more. It’s a thoughtful and fascinating book, one that left me, frankly, ...
  • Kartik
    I usually try to see the positives in a book, and I usually end up buying or picking out that books I like. This time however, will be an exception. This is the first book I've bought in the last 2 years that I feel was a waste of my money. Watching Iyer's TED talk on identity and home a few months earlier had made me interested in what he had to say, since he too is of Indian descent, loved to travel, and introspected during his travels.To start...
  • Sarah
    I really enjoyed this book, hence the four stars. It is about Graham Greene for one; it is about the effect books have on our perception of the world as well and those twi would have been enough. However there is more. It is brilliantly well-written, flowing sentences, elegantly structured chapters and a narrative that encompasses English public school life, California's spiritual heartland, Bolivia and if course Greeneland. It is so far ranging ...
  • Laura
    From BBC Radio 4:The travel writer Pico Iyer (author of Video Nights in Kathmandu, Falling Off The Map) has always wandered the world with a mentor 'looking on'. Whether it be Bogota, Cuba, California, Japan, the man inside Iyer's head, as he puts it, is always Graham Greene. And it is Greene's fights with faith, his reservations about innocence, his generous spirit, that are really inspiring. In the course of five episodes and from various desti...
  • Vaidya
    Have no clue why I liked this book. But I did.A fair bit did not make any sense, but it was a beautiful fair bit, like the rest of the book. Easily one of the best books by Iyer. (Am a bit surprised he still holds an Indian passport though.)I want to read more Greene though. I stopped after The End of the Affair and Brighton Rock.
  • Beth
    I really enjoyed this, but that's because Graham Greene is the man within my head, too. If you're not already a Greene aficionado, I'm not sure how much you'll get out of this, but if you are, you'll love it (even if some of Iyer's musings are a little cryptic). It has lots of fun aha! moments ("Oh, that's why I love Graham Greene..."), and is also a nice advertisement for how literature can help you learn more about yourself.
  • Frederick
    [I have expanded this review a little. I was falling asleep while writing it last night. I'm awake now; awake enough to add some bits at the end, after a row of asterisks.] The first three words of the title of this book form the entire title of Graham Greene's first published novel. Noticing THE MAN WITHIN MY HEAD on the shelf at my local library, I instantly thought of THE MAN WITHIN, and took it down off the shelf. I was surprised and delighte...
  • Shane
    Graham Greene is one of my favourite authors, so I am bound to be biased by anything written about him. And I found this book to be startling in Pico Iyer's insights into Greene and into that in-between country of guilt, doubt, compassion, faithlessness, inscrutability and betrayal we have come to call "Greeneland."Greene's many recurring themes are called out: (1)the visiting foreigner vs. the resident foreigner in an offbeat country, both out o...
  • Allene Symons
    As someone who follows new modes of writing memoir and mixed genres, and as a fan of Pico Iyer who has read all his books, I was captivated by his new braided biography-memoir about Graham Greene and his influence on Iyer's life. This indirect autobiography through the mirror of another writer's life and work provides insights that, I think, are more nuanced than if stated directly. A note of inevitability carries the pairing, for the two writers...
  • Arvind Radhakrishnan
    A tad disappointing.I have been hugely impressed with Pico Iyer's abilities.His books and reviews (especially on japanese literature) have struck me as being very insightful and original. However in this book he seems to fall short on various counts.He seems unable to convey the subtle nuances present in Graham Greene's works.His attempt to interweave his own life story with the works of Greene is very commendable.That said,I feel he fails to go ...
  • Bettie
    BOTWbbc blurb - "The high, thin light was turning the shacks and shanties on the hills to gold as I put my thoughts of Graham Greene behind me."The travel writer Pico Iyer (author of Video Nights in Kathmandu, Falling Off The Map) has always wandered the world with a mentor 'looking on'. Whether it be Bogota, Cuba, California, Japan, the man inside Iyer's head, as he puts it, is always Graham Greene. And it is Greene's fights with faith, his rese...
  • Barksdale Penick
    If you have read most of Graham Green, you will enjoy this book for the observations about those books that are mixed in to this reminiscence of a man who reads them over and over again. I found the author's observations about his own life less interesting than those about Graham Greene. Sort of a My Life With Julia kind of a tale, where we have a structure that tells us much about one famous person with a lesser figure, the author, also telling ...
  • Ananta Pathak
    I enjoyed reading this even amidst clutter of classroom noises and boring lectures of stern professor . in our life , even knowingly or unknowingly , we tend to mould our deeds according to the writings of our literary heroes. they are not just a writer for us, they are friend for us with whom we share our life. for pico iyer , that writer is Graham Greene . he is the man who has shaped his life like no one else. the book is a guide to the minds ...
  • Chaitrali Joshi
    Yeah I gave up this book halfway. One because I have never read Greene so I have no context. Second because even if I wanted to, he just gave away half the books. Three, I felt he had some interesting travel stories which never started even halfway through the book. The stars are for the writing, which is pretty good. Hopefully I can find a better book by him somewhere ahead.
  • Kevin
    Iyer is has some genuinely interesting insights into Greene and his work, but for some reason his style becomes painfully awkward when he writes about himself. He often reverts to the worst sort of memoir-prose that is characterized by the overwritten banal observation of the why-use-one-adjective-when-two-will-do school. He somewhat redeems himself with the last twenty pages or so.
  • Gopal MS
    Almost an autobiography. Also Graham Greene's biography.and the author's father's biography.This is a travel book like no other.
  • Derek
    The front half is highly insightful and engaging. the book continues, Iyer tends to focus on his himself much more than Greene and the prose becomes relatively flat and boring.
  • Literary Review The
    By Franklin FreemanFor The Literary ReviewSpring 2012 "Encyclopedia Britannica" I have traveled to Greeneland—the land so-called to describe the world Graham Greene wrote of—at least thirteen times, but lately I have been more interested in reading travel books about this place than in going there. Perhaps this is because I read a lot of his books when I was younger and have tended to agree with Martin Amis that Greene is a writer you think p...
  • Pascale
    A rambling meditation on life with the author's fascination with Graham Greene as its connecting thread. Iyer never met Greene, having made his sole attempt at getting in touch with him when Greene was already too old to waste time on getting to know new admirers. Yet Iyer feels great affection for the man and considers him a friend as well as a kindred spirit. It's a dynamic I've experienced myself and so I was very interested in reading what Iy...
  • Nicholas Whyte
    2018-08-23 was very much into Graham Greene in my late teens and early twenties, and have read very little of him since. I hadn’t previously heard of Pico Iyer at all, but like his father before him he is a cultural commentator - in fact, a travel writer, who has been a Graham Greene fan since his youth and has also had the opportunity to retrace a lot of Greene’s footsteps in various countries. Iyer is much ...
  • Clivemichael
    well written narrative with personal accounts and much reflective examinations
  • Uwe Hook
    Pico Iyer's latest book is not exactly a memoir, not quite a literary biography--or an homage--to Graham Greene, and certainly not a book of travels. But it is, of course, something of all of those things, a hybrid creature that carries the reader along, thanks to Iyer's usual facile way with words. It is Iyer's most enjoyable book I've read, and not surprisingly, it's his most personal.He opens the book during a visit to La Paz, Bolivia, and I c...
  • Christian Blum
    I heard about this book through the New York Time Book Review. An admirer of Pico Iyer, I expected it to be a work of fiction. Instead, it was a great biographical study of the British writer Graham Greene. I found his paternal treatment of Graham extraordinary. I also thoroughly enjoyed an aspect that most readers encounter but rarely vocalize--how writers we enjoy often exist as voices in our head. They have a rare ability to take experiences b...
  • Amit
    [Excerpts from my review/blogpost about the book]In The Man Within My Head, Pico Iyer attempts something very difficult, and almost manages it! That too, with amazing style and substance. On one hand it’s just a book about Graham Greene, the author (as his chosen father). But like all good non-fiction, it is about a lot more than that. What you get, for the price of one, is a potpourri of thoughts on sons, fathers, inheritances (not the mundane...
  • Sylvia Valevicius
    Lovely piece of writing by an excellent, intelligent, highly-revered non-fiction writer.I gave it 4 stars only from the personal perspective of my own ignorance of the works of novelist Graham Greene, from which Iyer gains much, as though Greene were his 'literary' father. Iyer travels extensively, and especially to remote areas where Greene worked on, and set his novels, such as Cuba, Italy, Mexico, and Vietnam; Iyer walks in his steps almost as...
  • Rohan Arthur
    A tolerably self-indulgent ramble exploring Iyer's tangled relationship with Greene. Pico Iyer is best when exploring cultural boundaries, and his need to find an escape from his admitted prisons of privilege is the constant lens through which we see these boundaries explored. When he turns his attention more self-consciously within, exploring what makes him the writer he is, his ghosts, his fathers - inherited and adopted, his obsessions and his...
  • Thomas Cooney
    Full disclosure: By the time this book was published I had become friends with Iyer and had shared with him many of my notions of Graham Greene and how he has existed in my own head and heart for so long. At one point Iyer was considering editing a collection of essays by writers discussing Greene. It seems that by the turn into the 21st Century most writers (note not critics but those who actually WRITE) have pointed to Greene as the greatest of...
  • Meredith Allard
    I began reading this book a few years ago and gave it up after a few pages because the writing style didn't pull me in. Now I'm writing a similar book about an author who has been hugely influential on my life, so I gave the book a second chance. Now that I've finished reading The Man Within My Head I'm not sure what the intention of the book was supposed to be. I haven't read any of Greene's novels, nor am I likely to after this. I wasn't won ov...