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Being There | [Jerzy Kosinski]

Being There

Academy Award winner Dustin Hoffman gives an understated and exemplary performance of this satiric look at the unreality of American media culture. Chance, the enigmatic gardener, becomes Chauncey Gardiner after getting hit by a limo belonging to a Wall Street tycoon. The whirlwind that follows brings Chance to his new status of political policy advisor and possible vice presidential candidate. His garden-variety political responses, inspired by television, become heralded as visionary, and he is soon a media icon.
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Publisher's Summary

Audie Award Nominee, Best Solo Narration, 2013

Jerzy Kosinski’s clever parable of a naive man thrust into the modern world is more pointed now than ever. Academy Award winner Dustin Hoffman (Rain Man, The Graduate), perhaps best known for his portrayals of vulnerable characters and antiheroes, gives an understated and exemplary performance of this satiric look at the unreality of American media culture.

Chance, the enigmatic gardener, becomes Chauncey Gardiner after getting hit by a limo belonging to a Wall Street tycoon. The whirlwind that follows brings Chance to his new status of political policy advisor and possible vice presidential candidate. His garden-variety political responses, inspired by television, become heralded as visionary, and he is soon a media icon due to his unknown background and vague, yet appealing, conversational nature. Being There was adapted into an Academy Award-winning film, starring Peter Sellers as Chance, in 1979.

Being There is part of Audible’s A-List Collection, featuring the world’s most celebrated actors narrating distinguished works of literature that each star helped select. For more great books performed by Hollywood’s finest, click here.


©1971 Jerzy Kosinski (P)2012 Audible, Inc.

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.2 (207 )
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  •  
    Kelly SPRINGFIELD, TENNESSEE, United States 04-16-14
    Kelly SPRINGFIELD, TENNESSEE, United States 04-16-14 Member Since 2014

    Kelly, Aussie living in Nashville, Employment Specialist, Writer & so on

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    "Glad I listened, though I love the movie version"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Whether you've seen the movie (with Peter Sellers and Shirley MacLaine) or not, the story is wonderful - simply told but with style and great irony. A fascinating concept of a simple man being mistaken for an almost god like savior, whose words are elevated to the level of scripture. It says a lot about what we want to hear and how difficult it is, at times, for us to take things at face value.


    What did you like best about this story?

    How it shows the world from Chance's perspective - from what he's learned from T.V., which is almost one dimensional and very simple - in contrast to how the world sees him, which is very complex.


    What about Dustin Hoffman’s performance did you like?

    His voice was well suited for this story as it was not over played. Deep, warm and friendly. His excellent acting skills shone through - simple and thoughtful without being overly dramatic.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Definitely.


    Any additional comments?

    I rarely say this (if ever) - but I actually enjoyed the movie version of the story a lot more, due to the characterization - especially by Peter Sellers and Shirley MacLaine. I also enjoyed the ending in the movie far more than in the book, which was more abrupt. (It would've been interesting, for me at least, to have seen Dustin Hoffman do Chauncey Gardiner!)

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    tom wellington, New Zealand 11-16-13
    tom wellington, New Zealand 11-16-13
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    "a great book"

    i've always liked dustin hoffman AND jerzy kosinski, but i was a tiny bit apprehensive if this was going to be any good. for one, hoffman has, as he has gotten older, acquired a certain set of actory habits that can be a little grating. and for another, there's the movie with peter sellers, which could get in hoffman's or kosinski's way here.

    so the pleasant surprise is that hoffman does a subdued job, you barely begin to recognise it's him, even. he rattles through the story at speed, keeping the listener's interest awake and well primed, and yes, there's clearly some irony here, and some satire, but the novel actually predates the reagan presidency, so it should not be confused with, say, a philip roth job on nixon.

    it's a short tale, and can be taken in during an afternoon's comfortable session with biscuits and coffee or cakes and ale. and will stay with you for a long time afterwards. i certainly enjoyed listening to this reading, having already read the book and watched the movie.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Elizabeth CHARLOTTE, MI, United States 10-14-13
    Elizabeth CHARLOTTE, MI, United States 10-14-13 Member Since 2011
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    "Strange and interesting story. I liked it!"
    If you could sum up Being There in three words, what would they be?

    Missing the obvious!


    What about Dustin Hoffman’s performance did you like?

    He did a good job of representing the main character. You could envision the character's physical look based on the voice Hoffman used.


    If you could rename Being There, what would you call it?

    News media and elected officials, a partnership that deserves each other.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Learning for Life Caribbean 09-05-13
    Learning for Life Caribbean 09-05-13 Member Since 2011

    Lou

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    "Wasn't quite my cup of tea"
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    I would make it a bit less insulting to the media and to people in general, whom the book portrays time and again as supremely gullible and superficial.


    What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

    I felt dissatisfied with the ending. I wanted more credibility.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    I felt sad when Chance walked out of the garden and the gate closed behind him, locking him out (forever) of the only place he had ever known.

    Also, how Chance was dubbed Gardiner was a really smart bit.


    Did Being There inspire you to do anything?

    The book has opened my eyes some more to the cynicism and insincerity that underlies many public political interactions and relationships. Perhaps what it inspired me to do is set out to be more authentic in my interactions.


    Any additional comments?

    I feel vaguely unsatisfied at the end of the audiobook. Something substantial seems to be missing, but I cannot say exactly what. I think it has to do with the portrayal of so many people as so easily misleadable. Perhaps there is some truth in that, but not given this book's premise. I wonder what the movie portrayal was like, but I do not think I would undertake this story a second time.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jan Fremont, CA, United States 05-24-13
    Jan Fremont, CA, United States 05-24-13 Member Since 2003
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    "Great narrator, but the plot's beyond ridiculous"

    No one could ever be as stupid and gullible as the people who "misread" Chancy in this book. I had hoped it would be deeper than the movie, or that the writing would be colorful enough to make up for the plot, but alas. Disappointing.

    Dustin Hoffman is awesome as a narrator. His beautiful voice and talent are wasted on this novel, but I would not hesitate to listen to some other book narrated by him.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mark Reno, NV, United States 04-08-13
    Mark Reno, NV, United States 04-08-13 Member Since 2006
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    "Still thought-provoking but same as movie"
    Any additional comments?

    It’s basically exactly the same as the movie, but with a little more sex and a little more internal dialogue. For me the interesting part was realizing how the story isn’t only about how people hear what they want to hear and often mold what others say into something unintended. It can also be seen through a race, gender and class lens. So we’ve got the story of a mentally slow man who is white and who is dressed well. His simplistic statements about gardening are misinterpreted as genius symbolism about economics. Soon he’s hanging out with billionaires, ambassadors and the president of the United States. Imagine whether the mentally impaired words of someone not dressed as well, a woman, or a black man or woman would ever be misconstrued in such a way. Thought-provoking still. Not dated at all.

    Dustin Hoffman's narration is excellent.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Thomas LaGrange, IL, United States 11-05-12
    Thomas LaGrange, IL, United States 11-05-12 Member Since 2012

    Just a small town boy, trying to make it in the big city.

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    "Fantastic!"
    What made the experience of listening to Being There the most enjoyable?

    Great, great story and Hoffman is a superb narrator. Putting his great intonations in all the right spots you can tell this novel and it's author are very important to him.

    I loved it!


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    D. S. Calvo Costa Rica 10-19-12
    D. S. Calvo Costa Rica 10-19-12 Member Since 2010

    Doug

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    "Excellent book and excellent narration"
    Would you listen to Being There again? Why?

    Yes, it is funny, tender and the Mr. Hoffman voice makes it so easy to understand.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Being There?

    When Chance is on television


    Which character – as performed by Dustin Hoffman – was your favorite?

    Chance


    If you could take any character from Being There out to dinner, who would it be and why?

    The President.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Elizabeth sydney, Australia 10-08-12
    Elizabeth sydney, Australia 10-08-12 Member Since 2010
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    "Social Satire at its Best."

    Dustin Hoffman's reading of this fine novella really enhances its gently satirical qualities. It has just the right touch of pathos and poignancy in its depiction of Chance's world, and when Chance's world collides with the power brokers of the mighty USA Hoffman's reading highlights Kosinski's brilliant exposition of the shallow absurdity of their workings.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Jessica M. Merbler Gaithersburg, Maryland United States 07-27-12
    Jessica M. Merbler Gaithersburg, Maryland United States 07-27-12 Member Since 2009
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    "Not even Dustin Hoffman was interested in this one"

    Just finished Being There by Jerzy Kosinski. It was like looking at modern art, where the artist is clearly trying to Be Artistic instead of, say, painting (or, in this case, telling a story.) About the only thing I really took away from it was 1) "here's another 60s/70s story I don't enjoy due to needless emphasis on sex," and 2) Kosinski obviously feels that people take away whatever they want to from an exchange instead of what's actually there. Which, while I agree with that, I felt that the message was clumsily presented. I don't understand why this is considered such an important work.

    3 of 6 people found this review helpful
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