Isherwood's story centers on the production of the vacuous fictional melodrama Prater Violet, set in 19th-century Vienna, providing ironic counterpoint to tragic events as Hitler annexes the real Vienna of the 1930s. The novel features the vivid portraits of imperious, passionate, and witty Austrian director Friedrich Bergmann and his disciple, a genial young screenwriter: the fictionalized Christopher Isherwood.
Isherwood never really gets his due. He's too subtle, self-effacing, and writes in what appears to be effortless prose. This short masterpiece is out of the Goodbye to Berlin playbook in that it is pre-WWII and involves a character named "Christopher Isherwood" and a lot of memorable minor players. It's a great book about making movies. The director character is completely unforgettable. It's like a short hike with a great view at the end.
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