It is said that each one of us, caries in our heads, a famous person, be it an actor, leader, writer, historical personality, or be it someone we met or even never met, who sometimes feels closer to us than close friends or family members.
In The Man Within My Head, the author sets out to unravel the mysterious closeness he has always felt with the English writer Graham Greene, who worked for MI 6 (the English intelligence agency) under Kim Philby (who was working for Scotland Yard and spying for the KGB and later defected to Moscow), and travelled incessantly, never settling anywhere.
He wrote ambiguous novels, articles, screen plays, and seemingly influenced people including eloquent and erudite Pico Iyer.
The connection here may be that both graduated from Oxford University and Pico Iyer’s secondary and post secondary education is primarily British and partially American.
Ostensibly, The man Within My Head is the author’s meditation on Graham Greene, the writer nearest to his thoughts and philosophy.
Considers Greene his adopted father, without explaining the reasons, and what makes Greene resonate with readers.
The question may be posed, as to why Pico Iyer, a thoughtful writer and excellent observer of humanity, chooses Greene as his writer in his head. The only reason I can think of is the similar style of education both received, and seemingly evolved along the principles “drilled” into them.
Graham Greene’s description of the haunted feeling of the environment, fundamental and unanswerable, is the mystery of the author and us.
The writing is exquisite, but forces the reader to jump from one location to another far away and in thought.
Greene led a life between many cultures, travelling and staying or working in a number of countries, and the author experienced the same (England, the USA, and Japan. He is married to a Japanese).
This revelatory book is a gift to use from an author who compels the reader never to stop reading, but turn page after page.
It should not only be read, but also carefully analysed and pondered.