"Breakfast At Tiffany's"

Breakfast At Tiffany's by Truman Capote

Another one I can mark off my guilt list, and such a quick read. At only 111 pages it's a long short-story or I guess "novella" is what they're calling them now, it had no chapters, and I was able to finish it in a couple of sittings.

The main characters are Holly Golightly and the narrator, referred to by Holly as "Fred" though that is not his name. Fred is basically just a talking head that we never learn much about. He is trying to be a writer and he's living in his first New York apartment. That's about it. Holly is a young socialite who seems to flit hither and yon with no definite plans. That's what she does; she flits. She doesn't seem to be bothered by any kind of moral restraint or any need to treat others well. She's rather self-centered and shallow, and her affections can be purchased by the highest bidder, but in spite of all this, every man she meets falls in love with her.

There's no real plot at all, just 111 pages about Holly. I don't know if readers are meant to find her as irresistible as all the men in the book do, but I'm afraid I didn't. I'm told the movie with Audrey Hepburn and George Peppard strays far from the book and I'm thinking that must be why everyone seems to love it so much.

Capote's writing is of that spare style that I find pleasant to read, a little like Hemmingway. He uses a few words/phrases that were in common use at the time (early 1950's) but they sound dated reading it now. It reminds me of the language I used to hear on early tv shows like "Dragnet" which totally impressed me with it's sophistication when I was a kid but now sounds a bit....dorky.

Included in this book were three short stories of Capote's: "The House Of Flowers", "The Diamond Guitar" and "A Christmas Memory". I read the first two and enjoyed the reading but didn't like the stories. That's the thing about Truman Capote; I don't like the stories or the characters and yet I enjoy the reading experience. I like the uncomplicatedness of his writing, which I should be able to call the simplicity of his writing, but I can't because it isn't the same thing. I did enjoy "A Christmas Memory" more than the others, maybe because the characters were more likeable.

I'll leave you with a few of my favorite passages:

"...the army of wrongness rampant in the world might as well march over me."

"...our understanding of each other had reached that sweet depth where two people communicate more often in silence than in words: an affectionate quietness replaces the tensions, the unrelaxed chatter and chasing about that produce a friendship's more showy, more, in the surface sense, dramatic moments."

"...her smile was fragmentary, it clung to her lips like cake crumbs." (from "House Of Flowers")

"...singing a song that sounded as jolly as jingling coins." (from "A Diamond Guitar")


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