Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Pico Iyer: The Man Within My Head

Shop Indie Bookstores
I wanted to love this book, because I love Graham Greene, and his writing, and Pico Iyer loves Graham Greene, and his writing. Instead, I'm sort of baffled about why it got published. Pico Iyer claims to have a special relationship with Greene, a man he's never met, one of the best writers of all time, and feels and sees connections that really are "within his head." I don't blame him for seeing connections that aren't there- I do this all the time, and expect people to follow along with me, or at least hope they won't think I'm crazy. I don't think Iyer is crazy, and rather enjoy the mental leaps that he makes. But the connections he draws- Greene did this in a similar manner to how he did it, or Greene's characters reveal so much about Greene, or Greene is more of a father to Iyer than Iyer's own father- are much more telling about Iyer, but not in enough of a way to be a memoir, and not in a telling enough way to serve as a biography of Greene. The book doesn't even really work as an insight into the writer's mind: Iyer's claim is that Greene sort of drives his writing, not as much inspires as impels. The book just flails too much for this to work.  I liked the book alright, but I'm lost: was it published because it would surely sell on the strength of Greene's and Iyer's fan base? It was a fast read, fortunately, and a free library read, which made it even better. But I'd rather read Greene again than listen to Iyer's conclusions about the man's work, and I'd rather read Iyer's memoirs than his life story as told through Greene-isms.