The OD Issue 2 - page 13

2012 · issue 2
book shelf
The Man Within
My Head
Pico Iyer
(OD 1970)
Bloomsbury Publishing PLC,
“We all carry other people inside
our heads - actors, leaders,
writers, people from history
or fiction, met or unmet, who
sometimes seem closer to us
than people we know.
The Man Within My Head
Pico Iyer sets out to unravel
the mysterious closeness he
has always felt with the writer
Graham Greene: he examines
Greene’s obsessions, his life
on the road, his penchant for
mystery. Iyer follows Greene’s
trail from his first novel,
Man Within
, to such later classics
The Quiet American
begins to unpack all they have
in common: a typical old-school
education, a lifelong restlessness
and refusal to make a home
anywhere, a fascination with
the complications of faith. The
deeper Iyer plunges into their
haunted kinship, however, the
more he begins to wonder
whether the man within his head
is not Greene but his own father,
or perhaps some more shadowy
aspect of himself.
Drawing upon experiences
across the globe, from Cuba
to Bhutan, and moving, as
Greene would, from Sri Lanka
at war to intimate moments
of introspection; trying to
make sense of his own past,
commuting between the
cloisters of a fifteenth-century
boarding school and California
in the 1960s, one of our most
resourceful cultural explorers
gives us his most personal and
revelatory book yet, and one
of the best new portraits of
Greene himself.”
Crops and Carbon:
Paying Farmers to
Combat Climate Change
Mike Robbins
(OD 1970)
Earthscan, 2011
“Rich countries are paying
poor countries to fight climate
change on their behalf - and
one way they are doing it is
through carbon sinks. These
are reservoirs of organic carbon
tied up in plants and in the
earth, rather than being in the
atmosphere as greenhouse
gases. This book looks critically
at this mode of climate change
mitigation. Can it work? Is
it just? Will poorer countries
benefit? The book considers the
scientific, economic and ethical
basis for this type of mitigation.
Previous attention has been
focused mainly on reducing
emissions from deforestation
and land degradation (REDD),
but this book is one of the
first attempts to examine the
potential for carbon sinks in
agriculture in crop plants and the
soil. In assessing this, the author
examines exactly how north-
south climate mitigation trading
works, or does not, and what
the pitfalls are. It highlights the
complex relationship between
agriculture, particularly different
forms of farming systems, and
the mitigation of climate change.
The arguments are backed up by
original research with farmers
in Brazil to demonstrate the
challenges and prospects which
these proposals offer in terms
of payments for environmental
services from agriculture
through carbon trading.”
New Light for the
Old Dark
Sam Willetts
(OD 1975)
Random House, 2012
“The poems in this remarkable
first collection have been hard
won: ‘Fruits of much grief they
are,’ as Donne said, ‘emblems of
more.’ Having lost ten years to
heroin addiction and recovery,
Sam Willetts emerges now –
suddenly, and apparently from
nowhere – as a fully-fledged and
significant English poet.
In a book deeply conscious
of history, one series of poems
tracks his mother’s escape, as a
young girl, from the Nazis, in
a narrative that moves from a
Stuka attack on the Smolensk
Road to the Krakow ghetto,
the destruction of Warsaw, to
Nuremberg and Nagasaki
and, finally, his mother’s
grave. Other poems address
Englishness, secular Jewishness,
and the childhood pleasures of
Oxfordshire – an increasingly
deceptive pastoral, stalked
and eventually shattered by
heroin, which brings a grim new
existence among dealers and
users. The redemption the poet
finds, through detox and rehab,
love and writing, is full of regret
for the years and lives wasted,
but also offers a lyrical rebirth
of the senses: ‘In a new light, a
new moon/ that isn’t made of
scorched tinfoil/will turn your
tide again’.
Deft, economical and
wonderfully original, this is
work that celebrates the peaks
and troughs of a lived life, the
poems’ vivid clarity feeling both
fresh and fully earned. It is rare
to find an unknown poet of such
mature quality, and
New Light
for the Old Dark
represents a
brilliant dawning.”
Why We Run
Robin Harvie
(OD 1990)
John Murray, 2011
“Everyone can run. Whether it
is a jog around the park on a
Sunday morning, or lining up
with 40,000 other people at the
start of the London Marathon,
all it requires is a pair of trainers
and the open road. But where
does that road lead and why do
we run at all? Robin Harvie ran
his first marathon after a bet, but
it wasn’t until he had ventured
6,000 miles into the extreme
world of ultra-distance running
to the start line of the oldest and
toughest footrace on earth, that
he found an answer.
As a hobby turned into a
120-mile-a-week obsession, so
a way out of his daily routine
evolved into a journey to
discover who he was and what
he was really made of. Through
the scorching heat of the desert
and into the darkest hours of the
Why We Run
the beating heart of the brutal
and profoundly intoxicating
experience of running.
If you have ever wondered
what makes you lace up your
trainers, and why you keep
coming back for more, this is
your story too.”
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