Cover image for Breakfast at Tiffany's ; & Other voices, other rooms / Truman Capote.
Breakfast at Tiffany's ; & Other voices, other rooms / Truman Capote.
Title Variants:
Breakfast at Tiffany's and other voices, other rooms
Modern Library edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Modern Library, 2013.
Physical Description:
viii, 286 pages ; 22 cm
Biographical note -- Breakfast at Tiffany's -- Other voices, other rooms.
The hillbilly-turned-Manhattanite at the center of Breakfast at Tiffany's shares not only the author's philosophy of freedom but also his fears and anxieties. Other Voices, Other Rooms begins as thirteen-year-old Joel Knox, after losing his mother, is sent from New Orleans to rural Alabama to live with his estranged father--who is nowhere to be found.
Added Title:
Other voices, other rooms.


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CAP Book Adult General Collection

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"Together in one volume, here are a pair of literary touchstones from Truman Capote's extraordinary early career- the transcendently popular novella Breakfast at Tiffany's and Other Voices, Other Rooms, the debut novel he published as a twenty-three-year-old prodigy. Of all his characters, Capote once said, Holly Golightly was his favorite. The hillbilly-turned-Manhattanite at the center of Breakfast at Tiffany's shares not only the author's philosophy of freedom but also his fears and anxieties. For Holly, the cure is to jump into a taxi and head for Tiffany's; nothing bad could happen, she believes, amid "that lovely smell of silver and alligator wallets." Other Voices, Other Rooms begins as thirteen-year-old Joel Knox, after losing his mother, is sent from New Orleans to rural Alabama to live with his estranged father--who is nowhere to be found. Instead, Joel meets his eccentric family and finds a kindred spirit in a defiant little girl. Despite its themes of waylaid hopes and lost innocence, this semiautobiographical coming-of-age novel revels in

Author Notes

Truman Capote, 1924 - 1984 Novelist and playwright Truman Streckfus Person was born in 1924 in New Orleans to a salesman and a 16-year-old beauty queen. His parents divorced when he was four years old and was then raised by relatives for a few years in Monroeville. His mother was remarried to a successful businessman, moved to New York, and Truman adopted his stepfather's surname. He attended Greenwich High School and never went to college. When he was 17, Capote's formal education ended when he was employed at The New Yorker magazine. He belived he did not need to go to college to be a writer, since he was writing seriously since age 11.

Capote's first novel was "Other Voices, Other Rooms" (1948), which told the story of a boy growing up in the Deep South. "The Grass Harp" (1951) is about a young boy and his elderly cousin discovering that some compromise is necessary for people to live together in a community and was adapted to screen in 1996. The play "The House of Flowers" (1954) is a musical set in a West Indies bordello. Capote then wrote, "Breakfast at Tiffanys" (1958), which tells the story of how Holly Golightly goes to New York seeking happiness. Capote became preoccupied with journalism and, sparked by the murder of a wealthy family in Holcomb, Kansas, began interviewing the locals to recreate the lives of the murderers and their victims. The research and writing for this novel, "In Cold Blood" (1966), took six years for him to complete.

Other works of Capote's include the classic "A Christmas Memory" (1966), which is an autobiographical account of a seven-year-old boy, his cousin, and an eccentric old lady, "Music for Chameleons" (1981), which is a collection of short pieces, interviews, stories and conversations that were published in several magazines, and "One Christmas" (1982).

On August 26, 1984 in Los Angeles, Truman Capote died of liver disease complicated by phlebitis and multiple drug intoxication. Published after his death were "Conversations With Capote" (1985) and "Answered Prayers: The Untitled Novel" (1986).

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 1

New York Review of Books Review

IT WOULD BE HARD to think of two writers less alike - stylistically and, for that matter, personally - than Truman Capote and John O'Hara, yet they shared many preoccupations. Both were fascinated by society high and low, by how people climbed or toppled from one rank to the other, and by how sex and money underpinned the entire system. "Breakfast at Tiffany's," Capote's charming 1958 novella about a self-invented cafe society girl and the admiring writer who lives upstairs, is set during World War II. Most of the stories assembled in the recent Penguin anthology of O'Hara's New York stories were written in either the '30s or the '60s, but some are set decades earlier. And yet in the newly released audio recordings of the two books, maybe even more than on the page, the versions of New York that are evoked seem virtually interchangeable: It's a city of people on the make or else clinging to their former reputations, where everyone drinks too much, and where you can easily wake up in bed next to someone you barely remember meeting. Listening to Capote and O'Hara back to back, in fact, you have to concentrate to keep the characters in one recording from wandering into your recollections of the other, and from picturing Capote's Holly Golightly, for example - who once had a future in the movies and now pays the rent by accepting financial favors from men - showing up at "21" on the arm of one of O'Hara's fast-talking Hollywood producers. And that young couple who make a living from hosting creepy sex parties - it may take a moment to recall that they turn up not at one of Golightly's parties but in the deeply strange O'Hara story "A Phase of Life." O'Hara is now somewhat neglected and under-appreciated, and the print version of the New York anthology, edited by Steven Goldleaf, with a foreword by E. L. Doctorow, is part of a welcome Penguin effort to reissue his work in paperback. (I wrote the introduction to the new edition of O'Hara's first novel, "Appointment in Samarra.") But even readers familiar with O'Hara may be surprised by how many of these stories involve not his Park Avenue types but people in show business: agents, producers, writers, actors, many of them alcoholic has-beens. This is a world O'Hara knew well from his early days as a press agent, and like much of his best work, the stories have the tang of genuine observation and reporting. So it's not inappropriate that the audio version employs, instead of a single voice, a whole cast of people, and not just audiobook veterans, but real actors. Some are household names, like Gretchen Mol, Bobby Cannavale and Jon Hamm (doubly appropriate, since Don Draper is an O'Hara character if ever there was one), while others, like Jan Maxwell, Dallas Roberts and Dylan Baker, have solid Broadway or TV credentials. The drawback to this scheme is that some of the cast (Cannavale is probably the worst offender) are inclined not just to read the stories but to act them out, overdramatizing the dialogue and laying the accents on thick. Unlike most story writers, who fret obsessively about what order the stories in a collection should follow, O'Hara thought that all of his stories were of equal value and so often presented them in his collections alphabetically by title. Goldleaf has adopted this practice, even though it means that contiguous stories are sometimes decades apart in setting (so that Lyndon Johnson, for instance, is president in one, and a while later Franklin Roosevelt is in the Oval Office) and in style. (The later stories are, in general, longer and more discursive than the earlier ones.) And this confusing arrangement is compounded in the audio version by the way the various narrators turn up unannounced. You have to consult the liner notes to know who's reading what. But part of what made O'Hara such a master of the short story was his ear, his way of capturing in print the sound of actual speech, and the best performances here catch his nuance and even add to it. Baker, for example, can do a perfect Brahmin accent, subtly underscoring the tension between the New York and Boston-born characters in O'Hara's great novella-length story "We're Friends Again." In "The Assistant," Mol delicately suggests the wistfulness and self-deception of an over-the-hill actress. Listening to these stories, perhaps even more than reading them, you're aware of how brilliantly O'Hara uses dialogue to convey exposition, and of how often his people, like Hemingway's, leave unsaid what is really on their minds. In the gym or in the car, with your earbuds plugged in, you feel as if you're eavesdropping on real lives. In the case of "Breakfast at Tiffany's," though, you may find that there's less dialogue than you remember. Capote's novella, some of the best writing he ever did, has in many ways been hijacked by the 1961 movie version, in which Audrey Hepburn, so elegant and winning, is not really the character Capote imagined (he had in mind someone more like Marilyn Monroe), and the George Peppard character is a far cry from the book's narrator, who is partly a version of Capote himself. The movie turns "Breakfast" into a heterosexual love story, which the book is only in a fablelike way, and ignores the degree to which it's an authorial coming-of-age story, in which the main voice is the narrator's own. It's tempting to imagine an audio version of "Breakfast" read by Toby Jones, who was so convincing as Capote in the movie "Infamous," though it would probably get irritating pretty quickly. The audiobook features Michael C. Hall, probably best known for "Dexter" and "Six Feet Under," and for the most part he delivers a straightforward, understated version of the text - a reading rather than a performance. This approach avoids all kinds of potential embarrassments (like Mickey Rooney's cringeworthy attempt at a Japanese accent in the movie) but also adds an element of literalism to the story, ignoring that Holly is in large part a confection, and leaches away some of the romance. What you miss is the sense that "Breakfast" is the story of a writer in love with his own beginnings, or his reimagining of them. O'Hara employs some writerly narrators as well, but they tend to be older and more cynical. They've seen so much that nothing surprises them anymore. And the one big difference between O'Hara's New York and Capote's is that Capote's is still a place of hope and possibility. In O'Hara there is sometimes a lingering sense that the city's best days, like those of the people who inhabit it, are already over, or that even if they're not, only an out-of-towner would admit it. CHARLES McGRATH, a former editor of the Book Review, is a contributing writer for The Times.



Truman Capote Breakfast at Tiffany's & Other Voices, Other Rooms Chapter 1 I am always drawn back to places where I have lived, the houses and their neighborhoods. For instance, there is a brownstone in the East Seventies where, during the early years of the war, I had my first New York apartment. It was one room crowded with attic furniture, a sofa and fat chairs upholstered in that itchy, particular red velvet that one associates with hot days on a train. The walls were stucco, and a color rather like tobacco-spit. Everywhere, in the bathroom too, there were prints of Roman ruins freckled brown with age. The single window looked out on a fire escape. Even so, my spirits heightened whenever I felt in my pocket the key to this apartment; with all its gloom, it still was a place of my own, the first, and my books were there, and jars of pencils to sharpen, everything I needed, so I felt, to become the writer I wanted to be. It never occurred to me in those days to write about Holly Golightly, and probably it would not now except for a conversation I had with Joe Bell that set the whole memory of her in motion again. Holly Golightly had been a tenant in the old brownstone; she'd occupied the apartment below mine. As for Joe Bell, he ran a bar around the corner on Lexington Avenue; he still does. Both Holly and I used to go there six, seven times a day, not for a drink, not always, but to make telephone calls: during the war a private telephone was hard to come by. Moreover, Joe Bell was good about taking messages, which in Holly's case was no small favor, for she had a tremendous many. Of course this was a long time ago, and until last week I hadn't seen Joe Bell in several years. Off and on we'd kept in touch, and occasionally I'd stopped by his bar when passing through the neighborhood; but actually we'd never been strong friends except in as much as we were both friends of Holly Golightly. Joe Bell hasn't an easy nature, he admits it himself, he says it's because he's a bachelor and has a sour stomach. Anyone who knows him will tell you he's a hard man to talk to. Impossible if you don't share his fixations, of which Holly is one. Some others are: ice hockey, Weimaraner dogs, Our Gal Sunday (a soap serial he has listened to for fifteen years), and Gilbert and Sullivan--he claims to be related to one or the other, I can't remember which. And so when, late last Tuesday afternoon, the telephone rang and I heard "Joe Bell here," I knew it must be about Holly. He didn't say so, just: "Can you rattle right over here? It's -important," and there was a croak of excitement in his froggy voice. I took a taxi in a downpour of October rain, and on my way I even thought she might be there, that I would see Holly again. But there was no one on the premises except the proprietor. Joe Bell's is a quiet place compared to most Lexington Avenue bars. It boasts neither neon nor television. Two old mirrors reflect the weather from the streets; and behind the bar, in a niche surrounded by photographs of ice-hockey stars, there is always a large bowl of fresh flowers that Joe Bell himself arranges with matronly care. That is what he was doing when I came in. "Naturally," he said, rooting a gladiola deep into the bowl, "naturally I wouldn't have got you over here if it wasn't I wanted your opinion. It's peculiar. A very peculiar thing has happened." "You heard from Holly?" He fingered a leaf, as though uncertain of how to answer. A small man with a fine head of coarse white hair, he has a bony, sloping face better suited to someone far taller; his complexion seems permanently sunburned: now it grew even redder. "I can't say exactly heard from her. I mean, I don't know. That's why I want your opinion. Let me build you a drink. Something new. They call it a White Angel," he said, mixing one-half vodka, one-half gin, no vermouth. While I drank the result, Joe Bell stood sucking on a Tums and turning over in his mind what he had to tell me. Then: "You recall a certain Mr. I. Y. Yunioshi? A gentleman from Japan." "From California," I said, recalling Mr. Yunioshi perfectly. He's a photographer on one of the picture magazines, and when I knew him he lived in the studio apartment on the top floor of the brownstone. "Don't go mixing me up. All I'm asking, you know who I mean? Okay. So last night who comes waltzing in here but this selfsame Mr. I. Y. Yunioshi. I haven't seen him, I guess it's over two years. And where do you think he's been those two years?" "Africa." Joe Bell stopped crunching on his Tums, his eyes narrowed. "So how did you know?" "Read it in Winchell." Which I had, as a matter of fact. He rang open his cash register, and produced a manila envelope. "Well, see did you read this in Winchell." In the envelope were three photographs, more or less the same, though taken from different angles: a tall delicate Negro man wearing a calico skirt and with a shy, yet vain smile, displaying in his hands an odd wood sculpture, an elongated carving of a head, a girl's, her hair sleek and short as a young man's, her smooth wood eyes too large and tilted in the tapering face, her mouth wide, overdrawn, not unlike clown-lips. On a glance it resembled most primitive carving; and then it didn't, for here was the spit-image of Holly Golightly, at least as much of a likeness as a dark still thing could be. "Now what do you make of that?" said Joe Bell, satisfied with my puzzlement. "It looks like her." "Listen, boy," and he slapped his hand on the bar, "it is her. Sure as I'm a man fit to wear britches. The little Jap knew it was her the minute he saw her." "He saw her? In Africa?" "Well. Just the statue there. But it comes to the same thing. Read the facts for yourself," he said, turning over one of the photographs. On the reverse was written: Wood Carving, S Tribe, Tococul, East Anglia, Christmas Day, 1956. He said, "Here's what the Jap says," and the story was this: On Christmas day Mr. Yunioshi had passed with his camera through Tococul, a village in the tangles of nowhere and of no interest, merely a congregation of mud huts with monkeys in the yards and buzzards on the roofs. He'd decided to move on when he saw suddenly a Negro squatting in a doorway carving monkeys on a walking stick. Mr. Yunioshi was impressed and asked to see more of his work. Whereupon he was shown the carving of the girl's head: and felt, so he told Joe Bell, as if he were falling in a dream. But when he offered to buy it the Negro cupped his private parts in his hand (apparently a tender gesture, comparable to tapping one's heart) and said no. A pound of salt and ten dollars, a wristwatch and two pounds of salt and twenty dollars, nothing swayed him. Mr. Yunioshi was in all events determined to learn how the carving came to be made. It cost him his salt and his watch, and the incident was conveyed in African and pig-English and finger-talk. But it would seem that in the spring of that year a party of three white persons had appeared out of the brush riding horseback. A young woman and two men. The men, both red-eyed with fever, were forced for several weeks to stay shut and shivering in an isolated hut, while the young woman, having presently taken a fancy to the woodcarver, shared the woodcarver's mat. "I don't credit that part," Joe Bell said squeamishly. "I know she had her ways, but I don't think she'd be up to anything as much as that." "And then?" "Then nothing," he shrugged. "By and by she went like she come, rode away on a horse." "Alone, or with the two men?" Joe Bell blinked. "With the two men, I guess. Now the Jap, he asked about her up and down the country. But nobody else had ever seen her." Then it was as if he could feel my own sense of letdown transmitting itself to him, and he wanted no part of it. "One thing you got to admit, it's the only definite news in I don't know how many"-- he counted on his fingers: there weren't enough-- "years. All I hope, I hope she's rich. She must be rich. You got to be rich to go mucking around in Africa." "She's probably never set foot in Africa," I said, believing it; yet I could see her there, it was somewhere she would have gone. And the carved head: I looked at the photographs again. "You know so much, where is she?" "Dead. Or in a crazy house. Or married. I think she's married and quieted down and maybe right in this very city." He considered a moment. "No," he said, and shook his head. "I'll tell you why. If she was in this city I'd have seen her. You take a man that likes to walk, a man like me, a man's been walking in the streets going on ten or twelve years, and all those years he's got his eye out for one person, and nobody's ever her, don't it stand to reason she's not there? I see pieces of her all the time, a flat little bottom, any skinny girl that walks fast and straight--" He paused, as though too aware of how intently I was looking at him. "You think I'm round the bend?" "It's just that I didn't know you'd been in love with her. Not like that." I was sorry I'd said it; it disconcerted him. He scooped up the photographs and put them back in their envelope. I looked at my watch. I hadn't any place to go, but I thought it was better to leave. "Hold on," he said, gripping my wrist. "Sure I loved her. But it wasn't that I wanted to touch her." And he added, without smiling: "Not that I don't think about that side of things. Even at my age, and I'll be sixty-seven January ten. It's a peculiar fact--but, the older I grow, that side of things seems to be on my mind more and more. I don't remember thinking about it so much even when I was a youngster and it's every other minute. Maybe the older you grow and the less easy it is to put thought into action, maybe that's why it gets all locked up in your head and becomes a burden. Whenever I read in the paper about an old man disgracing himself, I know it's because of this burden. But"--he poured himself a jigger of whiskey and swallowed it neat-- "I'll never disgrace myself. And I swear, it never crossed my mind about Holly. You can love somebody without it being like that. You keep them a stranger, a stranger who's a friend." Two men came into the bar, and it seemed the moment to leave. Joe Bell followed me to the door. He caught my wrist again. "Do you believe it?" "That you didn't want to touch her?" "I mean about Africa." At that moment I couldn't seem to remember the story, only the image of her riding away on a horse. "Anyway, she's gone." "Yeah," he said, opening the door. "Just gone." Outside, the rain had stopped, there was only a mist of it in the air, so I turned the corner and walked along the street where the brownstone stands. It is a street with trees that in the summer make cool patterns on the pavement; but now the leaves were yellowed and mostly down, and the rain had made them slippery, they skidded underfoot. The brownstone is midway in the block, next to a church where a blue tower-clock tolls the hours. It has been sleeked up since my day; a smart black door has replaced the old frosted glass, and gray elegant shutters frame the windows. No one I remember still lives there except Madame Sapphia Spanella, a husky coloratura who every afternoon went roller-skating in Central Park. I know she's still there because I went up the steps and looked at the mailboxes. It was one of these mailboxes that had first made me aware of Holly Golightly. Excerpted from Breakfast at Tiffany's: Other Voices, Other Rooms by Truman Capote All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.