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THE LIFE OF A NOVELIST

Is there a more shallow creature in modern literature than Sally Bowles? The first time I tried to read Christopher Isherwood's Berlin stories, years ago, I couldn't get beyond the opening pages. This week I can't put them down.
We talked continually about wealth, fame, huge contracts for Sally, record-breaking sales for the novels I should one day write. "I think," said Sally, "it must be marvellous to be a novelist. You're frightfully dreamy and unpractical and unbusinesslike, and people believe they can fairly swindle you as much as they want - and then you sit down and write a book about them which fairly shows them what swine they all are, and it's the most terrific success and you make pots of money.

"Goodbye To Berlin"

By a happy coincidence, Thomas Mallon reviews Peter Parker's biography of Isherwood in the latest Atlantic Monthly (subscriber-only):
"Isherwood's credo, or confession, of objectivity found its most famous expression in the sentence 'I am a camera with its shutter open, quite passive, recording, not thinking.' The detachment seemed to include his references to himself as "Christopher Isherwood" or, in the speech of his German landlady, 'Herr Issyvoo.' But self-portraiture by Isherwood's camera actually involved a lot of soft light and flattering refraction, and his friend Spender warned him against the airbrushed results: 'I can't help protesting against the little comic-cuts Charlie Chaplin figure into which you are getting so adept at turning yourself … You are far more interesting, and rather more sinister in some ways, than you make out.' "
|||Clive|||http://clivedavis.blogspot.com/2005/01/life-of-novelist-is-there-more-shallow.html|||1/15/2005 06:37:00 pm|||||||||
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