Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote
Having loved In Cold Blood – a tragic story, beautifully written – so much, as well as Truman Capote’s short story, A Christmas Memory, I wanted to read more of his work.
Breakfast at Tiffany’s is a “novella” and thus a quick read. I know it’s a classic, but after reading it, I’m not sure I get what all the hoopla is (was?) about? Or maybe it was more about the movie – which I’ve never seen, but gather from different online sources that it differs quite a bit from the book? I don’t know.
The story is narrated by a struggling writer, whose name we never learn. He lives one floor up from protagonist Holly Golightly in an old brownstone in New York City during WWII. his first encounter with her occurs when she comes in through his bedroom window one night via the fire escape in order to elude a violent lover upstairs. From there, Holly and the unnamed narrator (whom she calls Fred, though that is not his name) forge a somewhat strange, year-long friendship which includes both mundane and melodramatic events. He’s clearly at least a little bit in love with Holly, but their relationship remains platonic, though strangely intimate, and Holly is known for her promiscuity. The relationship comes to a dramatic end when Holly is busted for her involvement in a drug trafficking operation but manages to jump bail when she’s hospitalized for a miscarriage.
I didn’t find Holly to be an especially likable character. A child bride, she runs away from her much older husband and his children when she’s only 14. At the time the story takes place, she’s 19, so has been making her way in the world for a few years. Her first stop was Hollywood where she made a half-hearted attempt at breaking into movie stardom, and from there she made her way to NYC, where it isn’t clear how she makes her living – she might or might not be a prostitute. She has an eclectic collection of colorful friends, throws wild parties, and doesn’t care what anyone thinks. She’s also prone to depression and racism. I honestly found her annoying and tiresome.
Capote’s gift for writing is clear here, but I wasn’t crazy about the story.