cover image Where Joy Resides: A Christopher Isherwood Reader

Where Joy Resides: A Christopher Isherwood Reader

Christopher Isherwood. Farrar Straus Giroux, $25 (408pp) ISBN 978-0-374-12332-1

Isherwood's mercurial, impressionable style, as reflected in this omnibus of his fiction, essays and memoirs, was a perfect vehicle for capturing a generation's loss of innocence and the impact of historical traumas on personal consciousness. Included are two complete novelettes. One, Prater Violet (1945), features witty, expansive Viennese film director Friedrich Bergmann, given to dark, apocalyptic broodings; the other, A Single Man (1964), recounting one day in the life of an unhinged Los Angeles college teacher, combines brutal introspection and precise observations of Americans' ``symbolic'' lifestyles. In perceptive essays, Isherwood calls Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island a ``superpotboiler'' and refutes the notion that Katherine Mansfield was a ``feminine'' writer. Also here are reminiscences of his father, killed in WW I; an account of his friendship with W. H. Auden; and encounters with Swami Prabhavananda, his California guru. (Dec.)