Jerzy Kosinski’s clever parable of a naive man thrust into the modern world is more pointed now than ever. Academy Award winner Dustin Hoffman (Rain Man, The Graduate), perhaps best known for his portrayals of vulnerable characters and antiheroes, gives an understated and exemplary performance of this satiric look at the unreality of American media culture.
Chance, the enigmatic gardener, becomes Chauncey Gardiner after getting hit by a limo belonging to a Wall Street tycoon. The whirlwind that follows brings Chance to his new status of political policy advisor and possible vice presidential candidate. His garden-variety political responses, inspired by television, become heralded as visionary, and he is soon a media icon due to his unknown background and vague, yet appealing, conversational nature. Being There was adapted into an Academy Award-winning film, starring Peter Sellers as Chance, in 1979.
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Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Mr. P. D. Selman on 25-04-15
An excellent little book
Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?
I'd never read any Kosinski before and only bought this book as I'm a fan of Dustin Hoffman. As you'd expect from such an accomplished actor, Hoffman's narration is superb; I'd have him read all my books to me if I could! What came as a pleasant surprise, though, was that the story was as good as the performance. It's a really touching, funny story and my only complaint would be that there wasn't enough of it. It could have been twice as long and I still wouldn't have wanted it to end. I would definitely recommend it to a friend.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
By Eleni Charalambous on 25-09-17
Dustin Hoffman is a master storyteller with that voice. I got very immersed in this one, it was just so easy with the simple, but somehow powerful, way this story is told. Five starts all round, writer and performer!
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Ilana on 15-07-12
Chance is a simple-minded man who has always lived in the same house, where he's always taken care of the garden. He's never learned to read and write and never set food outside the grounds of the house, not even to see a doctor. But his life is turned upside down when the "old man"—the owner of the house—very sick in his very old age, passes away without making any provisions for Chance. Indeed, as far as the insurance company is concerned, Chance doesn't exist at all and might never have lived in the house, since there's not a scrap of paper mentioning him or his role in the household. What Chance does have is a thorough understanding of the world based on the countless hours he has watched television, as well as a very good set of clothes which fit him to perfection and which had once belonged to the old man, so that when he steps out onto the street with his bespoke (to another man) suit and elegant valise and meets with an accident with a chauffeur-driven limousine, he is immediately taken in by the passenger of the car, a Mrs. Rand, and brought to her home to be attended by her ailing husband's doctor who is often there on house calls. The husband, Mr. Rand, when he asks Chance about himself, mistakes our hero's reply and understands that his name is Chauncey Gardiner, whom he assumes to be a successful and very astute businessman based not only on his clothes, but on the remarkably wise observations Chance makes, wherein speaking only of what he knows—which is limited to the realm of gardening—his remarks are taken as being incredibly clever and profound. Before he knows it, Chance is introduced to the President of the USA (a close friend of the Rands) and becomes the man of the hour.
I had seen the movie version when I was just a young girl, where Chance was famously interpreted by Peter Sellers, and I remember the story and the acting making a strong impression on me. So when I saw this newly released (and inexpensive) audio version interpreted by none other than Dustin Hoffman, I pounced on it. Needless to say, Hoffman's reading is brilliant, and the story is still just as excellent and darkly funny as I remember it being, and still all too relevant today. Strongly recommended!
39 of 40 people found this review helpful
By Rebecca on 31-03-13
Light, Fun Read with Much Below the Surface
Chance the Gardner, is an illiterate, quiet man who has learned social graces by studying television. When the owner of the home dies, and the attorneys can find no record of him, he is told to leave and is hit by the limousine of the wife of a very wealthy financier.
This simple man becomes infamous as Chauncy Gardner. He meets sophisticated, influential people including the President, ambassadors and is on TV.
People find his simple talk about gardens a profound metaphor for the economy. Loved it!
While it is fun and light - it points out how people look for deep profoundness and answers in what is simply not there.
Dustin Hoffman's narration was great.
15 of 15 people found this review helpful