Golden Globe-winning actor Michael C. Hall (Six Feet Under) performs Truman Capote's provocative, naturalistic masterstroke about a young writer's charmed fascination with his unorthodox neighbor, the "American geisha" Holly Golightly. Holly - a World War II-era society girl in her late teens - survives via socialization, attending parties and restaurants with men from the wealthy upper class who also provide her with money and expensive gifts. Over the course of the novella, the seemingly shallow Holly slowly opens up to the curious protagonist, who eventually gets tossed away as her deepening character emerges.
Breakfast at Tiffany's, Truman Capote's most beloved work of fiction, introduced an independent and complex character who challenged audiences, revived Audrey Hepburn's flagging career in the 1961 film version, and whose name and style has remained in the national idiom since publication. Hall uses his diligent attention to character to bring our unnamed narrator’s emotional vulnerability to the forefront of this American classic.
©1950, 1951, 1956, 1958, 1978, 1979, 1984 Truman Capote. Copyright renewed 1986 by Alan U. Schwartz (P)2014 Audible Inc.
"[Michael C. Hall] uses his diligent attention to character to bring our unnamed narrator’s emotional vulnerability to the forefront of this American classic.... I felt content and comfortable in Hall’s hands as the tale unfolded. He did a wonderful job giving each character voice, especially that of Holly." (Caffeinated Book Reviewer)
St. Louis, Missouri
Years ago, when my wife and I first dipped into AbFab, we learned that the show’s British creators were puzzled by the American reaction to what they had created. Having produced nothing short of a comic morality tale on How Not to Live, they found it was embraced here as a Guide to Good Deportment. Something got lost in translation.
I think something similar has happened to Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Some of the blame, no doubt, can be laid at the feet of the movie (if movies indeed have feet). Audrey Hepburn’s sweeter, more sympathetic portrayal of Holly and a plot substantially reworked to Hollywood sensibilities—the most outré detail retained from the book was, I believe, the Japanese photographer asking her for another session—all conspired to leave us poor slobs who had seen the movie thinking we had read the book, too.
The real Holly is, in fact, far nearer the knuckle. In a 1968 interview Capote called girls like her, “the authentic American geishas”. “She had no job, but accompanied expense-account men to the best restaurants and night clubs, with the understanding that her escort was obligated to give her some sort of gift, perhaps jewelry or a check… if she felt like it, she might take her escort home for the night.”
The movie aside, what really fogs our goggles is the desire to see what we want to see. Holly fits so neatly, it seems, into our preconceptions of the pre-1960’s universe: “she is at odds” wrote William Nance in The Worlds of Truman Capote, “with the literalistic and moralistic society”. Certainly on the strength of the movie I had no problem casting Holly as an outrider for the social upheaval that was still 20-some years in her own future (remember, the book is set in 1943-1944, making Holly, by the Summer of Love, middle-aged).
Again, something got lost in translation. And, again, reality is far more interesting. First up is something I sensed while listening and have since had confirmed by Jay McInerney (The Telegraph, August 2013): Holly was no proto-70’s feminist. While she cynically uses men, she also truly and unapologetically likes them. And, as McInerney points out, though a free spirit she would be appalled by “hippie sartorial practices”.
I also sensed that her sophistication, for all her dark glasses and little black dresses, was skin deep. She has fled from her downhome roots, true, but she’s unashamed of those roots. Rather than deny them she just leaves them as she leaves her cat, her city friendships, her apartment.
Many critics believe she is really driven by a fear of death; since they have the larger context of Capote’s complete output to judge this book against, I’m not going to argue. I’ll just volunteer the suggestion that, as I listened, I got the sense Holly was really fleeing the loss of her youth and, consequently, her looks—a sort of fear of death but not quite. It’s more a fear of loss of income (see above), hence stability. And stability is the thing she yearns for most even as she refuses to do anything to create it for herself, assuming it is something “out there” that can be found rather than made here and now with, perhaps, that nice aspiring writer who lives downstairs.
Yet for all her flippant disdain for the guardrails of convention, Holly understands that the “price of unorthodoxy” (Ihab Hassan, Birth of a Heroine) is a loss of stability. True, when it looks like her South American diplomat might come through with a ring, her sudden immersion in the routine chores of domesticity is playacting pure and simple, nothing but another parlor game. For her sincere (sincerity, that bane of the sophisticate) admission that stability, normalcy, convention might be good things we have to wait till the very end, when she admits what she’s known all along: we all should belong somewhere to someone. The scene moved one New York Times reviewer to dub Capote, “perhaps the last of the old-fashioned Valentine makers”, proving what Holly and Capote already knew, that sophistication has its mental and moral limits.
And there is a moral to this book. Once again I am reminded of the words of Oscar Wilde. Though in the preface he stoutly denied that The Picture of Dorian Grey had a moral, when the book was attacked as immoral he came out swinging: “there is a terrible moral in 'Dorian Gray' - a moral which the prurient will not be able to find in it, but it will be revealed to all whose minds are healthy.” The moral of Breakfast at Tiffany’s is perhaps a little less terrible but no less true and poignant for all that.
It goes without saying that the book itself is a gem of the writer’s craft. The man who famously said of the Beat Generation, “…they’re not writers. They’re typists” was no typist himself. Michael C. Hall does it all more than justice, giving each character a unique voice and letting the writing—its shape and cadences—speak for itself.
Note: Many thanks to The Critical Evolution of Truman Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s, found at Ms. Brigitte’s Mild Ride. Among its numerous merits, this "discursive bibliography" is a storehouse of critical perspectives I would never have been able to track down on my own.
"There is scarcely any passion without struggle." Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays
First, Michael C. Hall did an excellent job on the narration, lending a personality and voice to each character. You always know when the narrator does a great job when you lose track of him in the characters; that is, you forget that this guy speaking is the guy on that Dexter TV show. You don't remember the narrator until the audio is near finished. I wish I could give more than 5 stars. This narration job is up there with Will Patton's best work and at times is even better.
As for the Book,
I'd always seen the commercial highlights/trailer for the movie version of "Breakfast at Tiffany's," and the phrase is even iconic of that era and place. Yet, I'd never seen the movie or read the book--until now. I didn't know what to expect besides basically the description on the audible version of the book - the basic storyline. So I know if I say too much here in the review of the couple of twists and the ending, I'll be spoiling the enjoyment of this audio for another listener.
With that in mind, Truman Capote's masterful short novel displays this young lady's complexities of character underlying the shallow facade. Some can rise above the admixture of nature and nurture and dream so much they will follow it to the ends of the earth. Holly Golightly was a dreamer extraordinaire or as Capote put it, a "lopsided romantic" whose trait of personality would never change.
A poignant line which I think captures a major theme of the novel is Holly's observation that:
"it's better to look at the sky than live there; such an empty place, so vague, just a country where the thunder goes and things disappear."
I've read somewhere that Capote ran in the same circles as Marilyn Monroe and parts of Holly Golightly are loosely based on Norma Jean's personality and her early years. I don't know if that's true, but it sounds right, based on what I know.
I must add my thoughts that an outcast sissy-boy from Monroeville, Alabama at the time (and even today) was likely extremely sensitive and keenly observant of his environment in the Big Apple and the fact that he was also a gay man from down South up in the big city probably served to further enhance his remarkable attention to details in that society at that time. The difficulties he endured in those years likely integrated into his makeup as an artist who could and would so vividly paint the outsider trying to fit in with the clouds, "an empty place," as it turns out, "where the thunder goes and things disappear."
I focus on fiction, sci-fi, fantasy, science, history, politics and read a lot. I try to review everything I read.
Of course I have seen the movie and loved the subtle story and Audrey Hepburn and Moon River, but I never noticed the story was written by Truman Capote. An Audible banner ad pointed this out and got me to order this short novel. It was great. Narrated wonderfully by Michael C Hall (Dexter and Six Feet Under) this novel is more enjoyable than the movie. But this is a rare case where you should see the movie first. Having Audrey Hepburn in your head while reading this is definitely not a bad thing. The writing is beautiful, with full and interesting characters and a story that is subtle yet extravagant. I have always appreciated Capote’s writing, and appreciate it even more now. This is a book I will likely come back to, and share with others.
Absolutely would listen to this again. The story never gets old and Michael C. Hall's narration was perfect.
Too many to count...I liked the scene where Holly and "Fred" spend a Sunday drinking at the bar. I love the simplicity of the metaphor of masks used in many ways, overtly and obliquely. The stolen masks at the store, a nice metaphor for Holly's stolen identity and "Fred's" assumed identity given to him by Holly. I enjoyed the hospital scene where Holly puts on her makeup as a sort of fortification or armor to help her read the letter of dismissal from her fiance. Makeup as armor or mask of another sort.
Everything. I love that he used different voices for each character, but didn't have to force it. Switching from voice to voice was smooth and not jarring in any way. His nuanced reading of the point of view character was even better than expected.
Well...there is already a pretty famous movie isn't there?
If you've read this story already, it is worth it just to hear Michael C. Hall narrate. Enjoy.
Reading, the arts and physical activity clarify, explain, illustrate, and interpret life’s goods and bads.
Truman Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s is a short novel that provides a lifetime of memories. Its scenes and homilies on life will forever echo in your memory. They will be there to help guide you in your life.
Breakfast's allegories and guiding proverbs come from our protagonist Hollie (Holliday) Golightly; a philanderer. She is a women who suffered many harms and wrongs as a child. When we meet her now she is running from those past horrors by seeking some alleged form of “elegance” through association with pseudo sophisticates. On one hand we all admire her catch as catch can attitude but also remorse at her loneliness and abandonment. She is one of the most iconic free bird characters in all of literature.
A book one can read again and again and never lose interest in or fail to receive value from.
And: Thank you Audrey Hepburn for bringing Hollie to life in the film version of Breakfast at Tiffany's. Do see the movie and read the novel. The Hollies are a bit distinct but each provides the same immortal experience.
Short, Simple, No Spoilers
Holly was flighty, fake, fun, and completely redeeming. Superbly written story narrated by the enigmatic Michael C. Hall, at the low, low price of $4.95 made for a fantastic listen. Thank-you to Audible for courting the likes of Hall!
I love books!
I would have never guessed that the Truman Capote book that was turned into a hit movie, now a classic, was based on a short story. The book being made into a movie must have given Capote's career a real jump start. That the book was narrated by Michael C Hall was an added bonus as I'm a fan of his as well. Based on the character of free-spirited Holiday Golightly, the author describes her life through the eyes of a would be writer. You might think he experienced this himself when he first moved to New York City although it's possible the character of Holly could have been based on several people he met. It's hard to think of Holly as anyone else than Audrey Hepburn. But it was a good short story and Hall's narration was great, I especially like the way he did Holly.
Capote's novella of Holly Golightly captures the superficial atmosphere surrounding Holly and her entourage. The narrator, probably a stand-in for Capote himself who came to New York from the Deep South, admires Holly at times, but also becomes exasperated with her. The author brings out the complexity of her character and her ability to design her own life, at least for a time, the way she would want others to view her. As the story unfolds, the readers / listeners get to know a bit of the real Holly, but by the end of the book, can only wonder what will happen to her eventually. She seems to be only able to face life by ignoring parts of herself. This thin novella has quite a different tone than the 1961 movie with Audrey Hepburn. The movie made Holly a much more sympathetic character. I really prefer the novel's character - she seems more human.
Michael C. Hall's narration was excellent. He brought out the vulnerability and hesitancy of the narrator in the story, called "Fred" by Holly and his voicing of all the characters was very good.
I'm an audiobook addict and blog about books at The Reading Date. My favorite genres are YA, New Adult, Fiction & Memoirs.
’ve never read Breakfast at Tiffany’s before this, though I saw the movie years ago. I was surprised to learn that the book is so different than the movie, and I feel like I need to watch it again now to compare. If you’ve only seen the film version of Breakfast at Tiffany’s you may be interested to read the source material behind the classic film. The tone is totally different, and there are some major plot changes.
The story centers on Holly Golightly, a flawed and flighty girl of nineteen living in New York City. She wakes up her neighbors late at night, and asks them to let her into her apartment since she always forgets her key. That’s how she meets her neighbor, the unnamed narrator of the story. Holly dubs the narrator Fred after her brother, and the two become friendly. “Fred” is a writer, and the free-spirited, dark and damaged Holly is his muse. Fred gets caught in the web of Holly’s crazy life.
Breakfast at Tiffany’s was originally published in 1958 and the slim novella packs a lot of story into its 150 or so pages. Truman Capote’s writing makes you feel like you’re the narrator getting to know Holly, and leaves you just as captivated/confused/appalled as he is. It is a complex character portrait that kept me guessing to the end.I can imagine this book was quite controversial for its day, especially in regards to the frank discussion of sexual identity, and even gay marriage.
This is his Michael C. Hall's first audiobook performance, and he really commits to the story. I think the audiobook is the perfect way to experience the book for the first time. Hall’s tone has a richness to it, and he makes each character sound distinct. Hall uses different accents and voices in his performance that help to paint a vivid picture. I preferred his male voices in the audiobook overall, but Halls’ Holly captures her quirky and complicated essence. At just under 3 hours long, this audiobook delivers a compelling, nostalgic story.
I actually walked the long way home on a couple of days because I didn't want this to end. I have read the book before but really enjoyed having it read to me. I really felt transported to the moment of the story.
There are a lot of interesting characters in this book but of course Holly is the star. She isn't the nicest person in the world and you know you shouldn't like her yet its difficult not to feel a little jealous of her life and admire her spirit.
Michael Hall performs excellently. His accents are wonderful. I especially enjoyed his portrayal of Holly's "husband" ,Doc.
This book made me happy. It reminds us that life is an adventure and we should never "settle".
"I have no idea why this is a classic..."
Boring story. Sordid lives. I have not seen the movie, but I don't know why anyone would bother making this into a movie. I guess I only made an effort to finish because it was short. I even left the last 40 minutes pending for a week before I managed to get back to it and finish...
Probably, as I think I read something by him many years ago and found it good enough.
I guess he did his best, the material he had was sort of lifeless...
Disappointment. Since the movie is famous, I had expected better.
"Surprisingly modern tale"
Beautifully understated narration. Wonderful writing by Capote. Great way to spend a couple of hours!
"This is one of my favourite storis"
Much as I liked Audrey Hepburn, I didn't really appreciate the film " Breakfast at Tiffany's". Audrey simply wasn't Holly and the film had an artificial happy end. I have always loved the story, though, for me this -and not "In cold blood" - is the masterpiece of Capote. Michael C. Hall (aka Dexter!) reads it with a very appropriate nostalgic twist. Lovely. And kind of sad, but with hope underneath.
"The beautiful voice of Michael C Hall"
I give this 5 stars if only for the beautiful voice of Michael C Hall. Unlike many readers, Michael C Hall changes his voice and style of speaking subtly for each character, so that you always know who's speaking and you are drawn into the dialogue without being conscious of being read to. I suppose I should add some appreciation of the writing of Truman Capote here, but I am just dazzled by this recording.
"Short but oh so sweet!"
I loved this book, it is absolutely perfect! I can not recommend it highly enough.
His voice was perfect for the role; it was made for him.
The story differs greatly from the film and is set in a completely different era. It is beautifully crafted and portrays the difficult life of Hollie Golightly via her neighbour and best friend’s eyes. His love for her is shown through both of their heartaches and Hollie’s tragic and destructive behaviour. I love this story and I love the characters; it is truly timeless.
"Not as good as I expected"
The book is very famous (as is the film) and I had expected something memorable. It was OK, but not more than that. When I listened, I was reminded of Sally Bowles in Goodbye to Berlin. Holly Golightly is the same kind of charming and seemingly irresponsible person with a hidden background, living in a "swinging" big city among glamorous and/or amoral peope, You even see her through the eyes of an admiring male friend. (The Great Gatsby is another book you come to think of). Compared to these two books, Breakfast at Tiffany's is a light-weight novella and there isn't much depth in the characterization. Personally, I liked Holly's abandonned husband best. The story was very well narrated which made it a good listen.
Having seen the film I found that the book was very different especially in the character of Holly so for me I prefer the film.
"Even Michael C Hall can't save this book."
I don't often write negative reviews but honestly what a load of twaddle. Michael C Hall is brilliant but honestly nothing but another writer could have made this better. I can live with unlikable characters but the whole story is so shallow it comes to nothing. F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby narrated by Jake Gyllenhaal has a similar premise but, with the exception of a great narrator, has everything this book lacks. I'd really recommend you spend your money on that instead.
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