Reading In Cold Blood changed my mind about reading nonfiction. Previously, I had stayed away believing the factual side of literature to be dull and filled with textbook-like passages where I zoned out after two or three words. Truman Capote showed me a different side – the narrative nonfiction side – and became a literary hero of mine. It’s a shame I’ve waited this long to read any of his fiction.
Breakfast at Tiffany’s is a short 90 page novella that most people think was only ever a movie. I admit that I fell into this category until I got to college and realized the source material was a Capote story. The narrator of the story basically becomes infatuated with a woman who lives in his building named Holly Golightly. She’s a progressive, hedonistic woman who has loud parties, drinks too much, and allows various men into her bed. Not the most shocking thing now, perhaps, but for a woman in the Forties this was dramatically offensive behavior. Men, including our storyteller, are infatuated with her. Capote chooses to focus only on the brief time Miss Golightly lives in this New York brownstone, but with his talent and expertise at the wheel we manage to learn quite a bit about Holly while still not learning all of her secrets.
I loved it. I love how Holly’s a wilder, darker thing in Capote’s imagination than the Holly brought to the screen by Audrey Hepburn. Both are compelling, but I prefer the written Holly as a sort of a high class call girl figure who mixes and mingles with mobsters.
The next three stories in this collection are equally as fascinating if a little less famous. My favorite of the three was “A Christmas Memory” which was made into a film starring Patty Duke, I think. It’s about a boy and an elderly woman who are the best of friends. You don’t often get to see such relationships explored as we so frequently shelve old people in the dusty back corners of our brains. I’m not ashamed to admit that the humanity and sweet sadness of this story brought me to tears. That doesn’t much happen to grinches like me so kudos, Mr. Capote, on inspiring my heart to grow three sizes larger.
Now I shall focus on reading all of Truman Capote’s backlist. And you should too.
12 thoughts on “Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote”
I saw the film before I read the novella, and it was like, “Wait– she was supposed to be a call girl?!” It’s so whitewashed in the film that it’s ridiculous.
I know, right? The movie was definitely far less daring than the novel. Capote originally wanted Marilyn Monroe for the lead and a darker story line for the movie – but no go.
Capote is one of my all-time favorite authors. “A Christmas Memory” is my absolute favorite, and I loved “the Grass Harp” too!
I’ll be picking up The Grass Harp next!!
I’ve only read his In Cold Blood (and some short stories) and really liked it. Narrative nonfiction is one of my favorite genres. Very different in subject but maybe try some Mary Roach? I’ve only read her Stiff but it was so fascinating.
I have Stiff on my shelves and hope to finally read that one this year. It has sat there so lonely for too long.
I really need to read some Capote!
He’s a lovely writer. In Cold Blood is AMAZING.
I really need to get off my ass and read more Capote. Looooved In Cold Blood, and I’ve had Other Voices, Other Rooms on my stacks ever since. It’s on my 2014 TBR Challenge pile, so we’ll see!
I’ve heard great things about Other Voices, Other Rooms!! Do it!!
Yeah I liked Other Voices, Other Rooms which I read long ago and should reread sometime. Check that one out.
I definitely intend to!