Reviewer Valerie Porter: Valerie is a freelance magazine writer and co-author of 5 books. She has also been a freelance book reviewer for a weekly Los Angeles newspaper and has written her own book blog.
She is an avid reader of fiction and non-fiction.
AUTHOR: Truman Capote
PUBLISHER: Audible, Inc.
From the first melancholy strains of music (courtesy of composer Michael Whalen), it’s clear that listeners are in for a treat with the audiobook presentation of the classic Breakfast at Tiffany’s, written by Truman Capote.
What is most remarkable about the audiobook is the narration by Golden Globe-winning actor Michael C. Hall, of “Dexter” and “Six Feet Under” fame. He may seem like an odd choice at first, but Hall is perfect, lending distinctly special voices or inflections to each of the characters.
In his main role of the struggling writer who narrates the story, there is something slightly sad, slightly bemused about his voice and also just a bit reminiscent of the famed Truman Capote in its ironical lilt (though several pitches deeper).
Though some audience members may have read the Capote novel, a majority will no doubt have seen the 1961 film version of the story, starring waiflike Audrey Hepburn and George Peppard. It will be a special treat for those filmgoers to listen to this new presentation, because they’ll be able to imagine Hepburn and Peppard as they navigate the brownstone apartment or streets of New York where the story is set.
For anyone completely new to “Breakfast…” in any form, it tells the story of a young writer’s fascination with a 19-year-old female neighbor named Holly Golightly. She is more or less an “American geisha”, shallow but somehow sweet, and also quite clever. Holly’s survival skills include her beauty and charm, as she glides through life attending parties and dinners on the arm of wealthy men who shower her with attention…and cash… for her “company.”
Nearly everyone falls a little in love with Holly, whose business cards were printed at the famous Tiffany’s store and proclaim her “Miss Holiday Golightly – Traveling.” It seems she can’t bring herself to put down roots anywhere. There might be something better just around the corner. But in the meantime, she’ll settle for social engagements and visits to Tiffany’s, to cheer her up.
It’s clear the writer is in love with her, as is Joe, another neighbor and proprietor at a nearby bar. When the story opens, it’s been 10 years since Joe or our narrator (whose name is not revealed, though Holly nicknamed him “Fred”, after her beloved brother) have seen her. Joe thinks he has a lead on her most recent whereabouts – somewhere in Africa.
But the story is not about finding Holly; it’s about remembering her, for her wit and wiles. We learn how she and “Fred” first met, and how various characters wove themselves in and out of 2her life. Perhaps more than is obvious when reading the book, and certainly more apparent than in the film, Capote’s magical way with words is celebrated here, because there’s nothing to do but be lost in their spell, as brought to life by Hall. Sometimes bitingly sarcastic, sometimes hauntingly beautiful, Capote’s talent shines in this format.
On another occasion, she tells him, “Everybody has to feel superior to somebody, but it’s customary to present a little proof before you take the privilege.”
“Fred” doesn’t mind her sarcastic humor. He says, like the others who encountered Holly, he “gobbled up her jokes like popcorn tossed to pigeons.”
Audiences will “gobble up” the treat that is this audiobook, as well. Pour a soothing beverage, relax, and enjoy all the wonderful components of “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.”