In 1958, Truman Capote put his stamp on the American literary scene when he published his short novel, Breakfast at Tiffany's, in the pages of Esquire magazine. Authors and critics were quick to recognize what Capote had accomplished here. The always opinionated Norman Mailer would say that Capote "is the most perfect writer of my generation, he writes the best sentences word for word, rhythm upon rhythm. I would not have changed two words in Breakfast at Tiffany's which will become a small classic." About that, Mailer was exactly right. Breakfast at Tiffany's is now a classic book – not to mention a classic film too (watch the trailer with the iconic Audrey Hepburn here). And now let's rewind the audiotape and take you back to 1963, to the great 92nd Street Y in New York city, where Truman Capote reads from his little classic in his own distinctive voice. This audio clip runs about 17 minutes. Have a listen.
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Writing in The Guardian earlier this month, Christopher Hitchens revisited Animal Farm, George Orwell's "dystopian allegorical novella" that took aim at the corruption of the Soviet Union and its totalitarian rule. Published in 1945, the short book appears on the Modern Library's list of the 100 Best Novels of the 20th century, and Time Magazine's own honors list. But, as Hitchens reminds us, Animal Farm was almost never published. The manuscript barely survived the Nazi bombing of London during World War II, and then initially TS Eliot (an important editor at Faber & Faber) and other publishers rejected the book. It eventually came to see the light of day, but, 65 years later, Animal Farm still can't be legally read in China, Burma and North Korea, or across large parts of the Islamic world. But, no matter where you come from, you can listen to Animal Farm for free. That's right, I said it – free. The Internet Archive offers free access to audio versions of Animal Farm and Orwell's other major classic, 1984. Both texts appear in our collection of Free Audio Books, and you can download them directly from the Internet Archive here (Animal Farm) and here (1984). Enjoy.
Note: Looking for an easy way to download Orwell's classics, or any other audio book, for free? Just head over to Audible.com and register for a 14-day free trial. You can download any audio book for free. Then, when the trial is over, you can continue your Audible subscription (as I did), or cancel it, and still keep the audio book. The choice is entirely yours.
But even so, it's worth recapturing the voice of the American literary giant – especially when we can hear him read from his own work. The reading is called "In Harry's Bar in Venice," and it was recorded with a pocket recorder sometime in the late 1950s. You can access the recording (thanks to HarperAudio) in multiple formats here: .au format, .gsm format, .ra format. Or you can buy it as part of a larger collection called Ernest Hemingway Reads Ernest Hemingway.
It's a creative take on Oscar Wilde. And Erika Iris Simmons doesn't stop there. You can find more of her creative "paperwork" creations on her web site. Beethoven, Hitchcock, Einstein – they're all here... (For more of her work, also see Simmons' Flickrstream.)