“If there’s one thing I loathe, it’s men who bite!”
So exclaims Holly Golightly in the opening pages of Breakfast at Tiffany’s, having entered the narrator’s apartment via the fire escape, and such is how Truman Capote introduced his heroine when he read from the novel here at the 92nd Street Y Poetry Center on April 7, 1963. Today’s featured recording is a selection from that evening.
Breakfast at Tiffany’s was published in 1958, and the film adaptation starring Audrey Hepburn was released in 1961, so when Capote asked the 1963 audience if they’d like him to read a section of Breakfast at Tiffany’s, everyone was downright thrilled.
Before the reading that night, then Poetry Center director John Malcolm Brinnin, who was also a longtime friend of Capote, offered these introductory remarks:
In the very curious sociology of these times, the name of Truman Capote has become a household word. . . . He no longer has to write a book to make news, but simply to be Truman Capote. No one is surprised anymore to learn that this young American writer has been quietly dining with Princess Margaret, or that he has been spirited off on the yachts of Greeks richer than Mycenaes, or that he has recently flown to Amsterdam to have a tooth filled.
But let us be wary of the disguises of genius. Anyone who knows Truman Capote knows that the columnists capture the details but miss the point. Beyond the public image of Truman Capote there stands a very private man, who owns one of the toughest, most resourceful and surgically adept minds in modern letters. And if we now must note that the boy wonder has become the prodigal son, that is all the more reason why I am happy to invite you to join me in welcoming him.
In an ongoing effort to share with our readers some of the great literary moments which the Poetry Center has presented across the decades, this blog has begun to feature regular postings of archival recordings. For access to other recordings, please click here. For more information about upcoming Poetry Center events, please click here.
Unterberg Poetry Center webcasts and access to our archive are made possible in part by the generous support of the Sidney E. Frank Foundation.
You can also download the MP3. [16 MB]
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