Sunday, October 27, 2019

Breakfast at Tiffany's: Truman Capote

The story takes place over a year or two in New York, during World War II. A young man, an aspring writer, is the narrator.

The first paragraph of the book:
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.
This young man soon meets Holly Golightly, a free spirit, who has had a hard life (and she is only eighteen). She also lives in the brownstone, in a larger apartment; she has no job and spends most of her time socializing with wealthy people (mostly men) who give her money and presents. During the time the young writer and Holly are living in the brownstone, she  gradually reveals more about her past and herself. She always calls him "Fred" after her brother who is stationed overseas during the war.

I have seen the movie with Audrey Hepburn and to me it was depressing. I also found the story it is based on to be very sad. The portrait of Holly Golightly is even darker. But regardless of the mood it put me in, reading this book was a good experience. Truman Capote's writing is beautiful. The story is very well told, although I can hardly think of a character that I really liked.

Do I recommend this book? Yes, because it is worth reading Capote's writing. And it is short, just a novella. This edition also contains three stories: 'House of Flowers', 'A Diamond Guitar' and 'A Christmas Memory'. Which I have not read yet but plan to.

Here are some other opinions:


Publisher:   Vintage International, 2012 (orig. pub. 1958)
Length:       84 pages
Format:      Trade paperback
Setting:      New York City
Genre:       Fiction
Source:      I purchased my copy.


Rick Robinson said...

I too have seen the film, and loved the music, but thought the film a downer and never wanted to read the book. I have read other things by Capote, and have thought him an adequate wordsmith.

TracyK said...

The book would be more of a downer, Rick. The only other thing I have read by Capote is In Cold Blood, and that was too long ago to remember, and it was non-fiction (mostly). I did like his writing in this book but I won't be reading it again.

Margot Kinberg said...

Capote did write well, Tracy, so I'm not surprised you felt that way about this one. Not uplifting, as you say, but a well-written story with a vivid sense of place and time.

Katrina said...

I did enjoy it and as I recall the film is a bit different from the book. I like his writing so I should get around to reading more by Capote - sometime. Part of me still sees him as Dill in To Kill a Mockingbird and his friendship with Harper Lee intrigues me.

TracyK said...

I probably never would have read this book if it had longer, Margot, but when I found out that it was a novella, I thought I should read it.

TracyK said...

I would like to read more about Capote's relationship with Harper Lee, Katrina. I would also like to try other things he has written.

Nan said...

I agree. It is depressing. I had seen the movie, and what I like most about it is the music. I found what I had jotted down in 2003.
Breakfast At Tiffany's 1958
By Truman Capote
Fiction Novella C-

I found it depressing, with a negative view of life and people. It was like I was slogging along; just getting through the boring pages. I simply did not care about anyone.

TracyK said...

I liked reading it, Nan, but I also like some uplift in my reading and there was none there. And if I read about unlikable characters I want them to be interesting in some way.

It is great that you can go back and see what you thought about what you read. I started listing what I read in 2002 but not any comments about my thought about them.

Nan said...

I know people who have been keeping track for ages, and I wish I had begun much earlier. I have only a vague remembrance of childhood and high school reading.

TracyK said...

Me too, Nan. And it makes me sad that I cannot remember books I read in my childhood, or even in high school. My mother took us to the library all the time. I was always reading. What classics did I read then? Although I do remember reading Thomas Hardy and War in Peace, probably closer to college.

Mathew Paust said...

A masterful wordsmith, altho I imagine some male readers were put off by the echo of effeminacy that comes thru the writing, as it did in his person. I read Breakfast not long after it came out, and was too inexperienced to feel threatened by the delicate tone--and this was before I saw him on TV. Much later it amused me to learn Humphrey Bogart was making fun of Capote in a bar. Capote had written Beat the Devil, a comedy in which Bogie and the gang played rogues (and which I found tedious and unfunny). Anyway, Bogie implied Capote was a sissy, so Capote challenged him to an arm-wrestling contest, which they commenced to do. After Capote pinned his opponent repeatedly, he lisped, "It's all in the wrists, a matter of leverage." I've no doubt Bogart by then well understood that lisp.

TracyK said...

Very interesting story about Capote and Bogart, Mathew. He was an interesting person and I would like to learn more about him. So many things I would like to read.

col2910 said...

I think I'll stick to IN COLD BLOOD for now at least. It does sound quite good though.

TracyK said...

It has been so long since I read IN COLD BLOOD, Col. I remember thinking it was good but it was hard to read I think.