The Sixties Diaries: 1960–1969
by Christopher Isherwood
Edited by Katherine Bucknell
HarperCollins. 756 pages, $39.99
TWO of the three volumes of Christopher Isherwood’s diaries are now out: Diaries: Volume 1, 1939–1960 (1996), with 1,054 pages, and now The Sixties: Diaries: 1960–1969, with 756 pages. There’s one more to come, scheduled for this spring, covering the last dozen years of the novelist’s life.
As someone who has read just about everything Isherwood ever wrote, who’s edited a couple of books about him, and who teaches his novels almost every semester, I’m about as interested in the life and work of this great chronicler of the 20th century as a person could be. And yet, as I read and read and read my way through the 1960’s, I found myself wanting… less. Less about his arthritic thumb, less talk of hangovers, less anxiety about every pain possibly indicating cancer, less worrying about productivity, infidelity, or the weather. I also began to think that some editing would have been a kindness to Isherwood, who is spared nothing in all these pages.