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Baker's Dozen

A Life Turning Pages: Robert Forster's Favourite Books
Aug Stone , April 8th, 2020 09:22

The Go-Betweens founder takes Aug Stone through his 'eclectic even to himself' reading tastes


Christopher Isherwood - Mr Norris Changes Trains
This is a really close book to me. Another London book, going back to the 80s. I half-knew who Isherwood was through the film Cabaret. I was on tour and I went to a secondhand shop and I got Goodbye To Berlin, which Cabaret is based on. I read it and loved it. The clear style, the characters, the dialogue, what he picks out to be important and puts on the page. I thought I'd get more and I moved to Mr Norris Changes Trains. Goodbye To Berlin is easily his most famous book, Cabaret helped that, and whenever people talk about Berlin in the 30s, this is one of the things that's rolled out. Mr Norris Changes Trains is better. It's more of a novel. There's a beginning and an end, whereas Goodbye To Berlin is a bit of a jumble. Mr Norris Changes Trains is very funny. It's the same sort of character - well, it's Isherwood - the observer with his eclectic underground of gay and straight underworld friends. Lots of atmosphere about Berlin. A young man in his 30s just going through the world meeting people. He's got this lovely clear eye, a great eye for absurdities and ear for dialogue. Very wry. And I think Mr Norris Changes Trains is his best fiction.