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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
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