In this final volume of Christopher Isherwood's diaries, capstone of a million-word masterwork, he greets advancing age with poignant humour and an unquenchable appetite for the new. 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. 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.
Gifted friends both anonymous and infamous take a turn through Isherwood's densely populated human comedy, sketched with ruthlessness and benevolence against the background of the Vietnam War and the Nixon, Carter and Reagan White Houses. Bachardy’s burgeoning career pulled Isherwood into the 1970s art scene where we meet Rauschenberg, Ruscha, and Warhol (serving fetid meat for lunch) as well as Hockney (adored) and Kitaj. Frpm Hollywood and the worlds of music and letters enter John Huston, Merchant and Ivory, John Travolta, John Voight, Elton John, David Bowie, Joan Didion and Armistead Maupin.
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 life-long immersion in the day-to-day lifted him, paradoxically, toward transcendence.
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.