I just this moment finished "The Berlin Stories." I whooshed through it all far too fast. So much of it was exactly what I had expected and hoped for -- wonderful descriptions of Mr. Norris, Salley Bowles, Frl. Schroeder, Otto, Peter, Rudi and all the rest of the cast of characters, and the dubious goingsons at various Berlin hotspots, while the Nazis and the communists slug it out, sometimes literally, on the streets. Isherwood's writing is brilliant in its simplicity and elegance, sometimes with sly humor, sometimes with heart-breaking realism. I read through it all fascinated, picturing Isherwood's Berlin as an overlay to the places I visited last summer (how I wish I'd read this first!). But then I read that last diary entry, the real "goodbye" in "Goodbye to Berlin." Of course, history tells us what came next, the end of this story was a known quantity before I read the first page. And yet, I still had chills when I closed the book for the final time. But I wasn't picturing brown shirts and swastikas. I was thinking of Caribou Barbie and those rousing rallies she was holding as summer turned to fall in all those pockets of "real America." Like I said, chilling.