Isolarion: A Different Oxford Journey

Hardback
Isolarion takes its title from a type of fifteenth-century map that isolates an area in order to present it in detail, and that's just what James Attlee does here for Cowley Road in Oxford. The former site of a leper hospital, a workhouse, and a medieval well said to have miraculous healing powers, Cowley Road has little to do with the dreaming spires of the tourist's or student's Oxford.From a sojourn in a sensory-deprivation tank to a furtive visit to an unmarked pornography emporium, the sharp-eyed Attlee investigates every aspect of the Cowley Road's appealingly eclectic culture, where halal shops jostle with craft jewelers and nightclubs pulsate alongside quiet churchyards.Drawing inspiration from sources ranging from Robert Burton's The Anatomy of Melancholy to contemporary art, Attlee is a charming and congenial guide who revels in the extraordinary embedded in the everyday. Isolarion is at once a road movie, a quixotic stand against uniformity, and a rousing hymn in praise of the complex, invigorating nature of the twenty-first-century city.