The CE had more pressing commitments; I was alone in the city this trip.
Being alone in New York City is a far cry from being alone anywhere else because you are surrounded, crushed by humanity and sirens and the grime of summer. In lengthy periods of solitude, there are moments where you actually make friends with yourself: your observant self notices some quirky detail – a subway antic, a scrawl of incandescently brilliant graffiti – and then some other part of yourself winks and nods and acknowledges it – hah, I saw that, too! And that is where it occurs to you that you might be going just a little bit crazy with loneliness.
So. Thank God for audiobooks.
I’ve been on the fence about audiobooks for a long while. Some of them transmogrify into cloying earworms that grate and annoy and which I would digitally murder if they didn’t cost so darned much to download. Others are worth listening to, but whole swaths get lost when you walk past a construction site – I’m walking down 57th Street and the English Patient is just about to confess his true identity to Caravaggio and then, JA-JA-JA-JA-JA-JA-JACKHAMMER with a side of a wall-sized dust cloud ruins the moment. Yes, I know I could re-wind. But it’s not the same as when your eyes and soul linger lovingly on a page.
So you can imagine my trepidation when I downloaded the audiobook of Breakfast at Tiffany’s. This could be a disaster, right? But there I was, with great gobs of hours alone to listen, and it seemed like the right time and the right homage to my favorite city. And Michael C. Hall and I go way back: every resplendent episode of Six Feet Under, check; third row seats to The Realistic Joneses just so I could see him up close, check. Okay, so I had to opt out of Dexter after the third season TOO. MUCH. BLOOD! but I’ve got my bona fides with Michael, I know someone who knows someone he dated. That counts, right?
Breakfast at Tiffany’s is so inextricably linked with Audrey Hepburn in the title role of the film that we almost forget about Harper Lee’s childhood buddy, Truman Capote, who wrote the novella that bestowed upon us the unforgettable Holly Golightly. Capote is brilliant, and Michael C. Hall just steps in and takes that brilliance up a notch or twenty. Every single nuance is perfection. Hall gloriously inhabits each character, melting alternately into Holly and Doc and Mag Wildwood with almost shocking ease.
And Hall’s reading infuses the reader with compassion for Capote, the unobtrusive narrator who doesn’t even have a proper name. Holly dubs him “Fred”, and then “Buster”, but we don’t really know who he is. Hall does, though. He’s got Capote’s number, right down to the area code.
Have I sold you yet? If not, this should do it: it takes just under three hours of your life to listen to the book in its entirety. Oh, and don’t forget, there’s a cat. A stringy, stray orange ruffian of a cat who reminds me very, very much of someone I know.
I would much rather not be alone in the city. But if one must be alone, Mr. Capote and Mr. Hall make for very good company. I never actually went to Tiffany’s while I was there – far too dangerous! But I listened to the book’s final chapter on a sweltering evening, just after dark, as I walked down Central Park West toward my apartment. To my right, taxis honked and sirens blared. To my left, I could feel the almost imperceptible drop in temperature emanating from the Park. The trees and vines, black in the darkness, breathed just a hint of coolness on a hot summer night. I was a little sad and a lot lonely and the last few lines of the book ebb away with a poignance that sends a little chill up your spine even on a very hot night. I’ll happily confess it: I cried at the end. But luckily, no one was there to see, and I know Truman and Michael C. Hall would understand.