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Diaries: 1970-1983

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"A slip of a wild boy: with quick silver eyes," as Virginia Woolf saw him in the 1930s, Christopher Isherwood journeyed and changed with his century, until, by the 1980s, he was celebrated as the finest prose writer in English and the grand old man of gay liberation. In this final volume of his diaries, the capstone of a million-word masterwork, Isherwood greets advancing age with poignant humor and an unquenchable appetite for the new; even aches, illnesses, and diminishing powers are clues to a predicament still unfathomed. The mainstays of his mature contentment—his Hindu guru, Swami Prabhavananda, and his long-term companion, Don Bachardy—draw from him an unexpected high tide of joy and love.

Around his private religious and domestic routines orbit gifted friends both anonymous and infamous. Bachardy's burgeoning career pulled Isherwood into the 1970s art scenes in Los Angeles, New York, and London, where we meet Rauschenberg, Ruscha, and Warhol (serving fetid meat for lunch), as well as Hockney (adored) and Kitaj. Collaborating with Bachardy on scripts for the prizewinning Frankenstein and the Broadway fiasco A Meeting by the River, Isherwood extended his ties in Hollywood and in the theater world. John Huston, Merchant and Ivory, John Travolta, David Bowie, John Voight, Armistead Maupin, Elton John, and Joan Didion each take a turn through Isherwood's densely populated human comedy, sketched with both ruthlessness and benevolence against the background of the Vietnam War, the energy crisis, and the Nixon, Carter, and Reagan White Houses.

In Kathleen and Frank, his first book of this period, Isherwood unearthed the family demons that haunted his fugitive youth. When contemporaries began to die, he responded in Christopher and His Kind and My Guru and His Disciple with startling fresh truths about shared experiences. These are the most concrete and the most mysterious of his diaries, candidly revealing the fear of death that crowded in past Isherwood's fame, and showing how his lifelong immersion in the day-to-day lifted him, paradoxically, toward transcendence.

Publishers Weekly Review

Jun 11, 2012 – This third and final volume of Isherwood’s compulsively readable diaries concludes with a 136-page “glossary” of names—a testament to his connections to the literati and Hollywood glitterati. As the 1970’s commence, lover Don Bachardy has just had his screenplay for Cabaret (based on the musical drawn from Isherwood’s Goodbye to Berlin) rejected, and the two have begun what will be an unsuccessful stage adaptation of Isherwood’s novel, A Meeting by the River. The last diary entry dates to July 4, 1983, exactly two and a half years before Isherwood’s death from cancer. In between, he regales readers with accounts of his collaboration with Bachardy on the screenplay for Frankenstein: The True Story, the 1976 publication of Christopher and His Kind (which moved him to the forefront of the gay rights movement), and nonstop dinners, parties, and foreign travels. A master of the bon mot, he enlivens passages with witty critiques of books, acquaintances (Rudolf Nureyev “really is a macabre absurd nineteenth-century vampire”), and lifestyles (“One of the disadvantages about being so frank about one’s queerness is that everybody expects you to leer at attractive boys, so you try not to, out of perversity”). A preface by Edmund White and meticulous notes and annotations by editor Bucknell distinguish this fitting finale to a fascinating life.
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  • $9.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Biographies & Memoirs
  • Published: Nov 20, 2012
  • Publisher: Harper
  • Seller: HarperCollins
  • Print Length: 928 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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