Gloria Mundi's Reviews > Breakfast at Tiffany's

Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote
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's review
Apr 11, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: 1001-books, broken-doll-stories, guardian-1000-novels-list
Read in April, 2012

Let me first make a confession. I am one of the very very few people in the western world who has never seen the film. I am, of course, aware of the film, and even have an Audrey Hepburn box set which includes it but have, for some reason or other, never got around to watching it. My excuse is that I grew up in soviet Russia where western cinematography was hard to come by until I was a teenager.

The outcome is that I went into the book with pretty much no expectations, other than an iconic image of Audrey Hepburn in a black shift and pearls with her wide bambi eyes and that elusive joie de vivre which comes across even in a photograph at the back of my mind and some vague idea that this might be something along the lines of the Audrey Hepburn films I have seen, which are Sabrina and Roman Holiday. Well, for all I know the movie may well be, but the book certainly was not that.

The first shocker was that Holly Golightly is, in fact, blond. She is a blond glamorous foul mouthed vacuous slutty emotionally damaged 18 year old setting the social scene in WWII New York on fire. A quintessential manic pixie dream girl, "that bubbly, shallow cinematic creature that exists solely in the fevered imaginations of sensitive writer-directors to teach broodingly soulful young men to embrace life and its infinite mysteries and adventures" (as defined by film critic Nathan Rabin, according to wiki).

It was, perhaps thanks to the very limited length of this novella that Holly manages to stay just on the right side of fascinating without tipping over into irritating too much. She is exactly the kind of character that I would normally despise but there is just enough broken doll air to her to keep her on the darker side of the MPDG spectrum and keep me interested.

To add to the fun, the narrator is a total creep who doesn't think twice about rifling through the garbage of a woman he barely knows and generally stalking her about the place and there is this disturbing backdrop of paedo-eroticism with all these old-er men constantly perving after Holly.
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Comments (showing 1-22 of 22) (22 new)

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Tatiana I have never watched that movie either and probably won't because I can't really see Hepburn in that role. You probably know that Capote wanted Monroe for it.

message 2: by Gloria (last edited Apr 12, 2012 08:26AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Gloria Mundi That's interesting. I didn't know but that's exactly whom I pictured once the whole blond thing was revealed. It's also much easier to imagine Marilyn as a pre-pubescent hick bride. In fact, the more I think of it, it is actually very obvious that is who Capote based Holly on.

I will probably watch the film at some point, as it is such a classic and I like Hepburn. I also just looked up the Wiki article for the film and it is a romantic comedy FFS! There was nothing romantic or particularly funny about this book.

Tatiana I know! The narrator is obviously gay in the book, and they made him her romantic interest in the movie. I thought the book was very edgy and dark, even by current standards, how you can make it into a romantic comedy?

message 4: by Regina (last edited Apr 12, 2012 07:33AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Regina "To add to the fun" -- very funny, I love your pagragarph there. @ Tatiana -- He is gay in the book?!!

Tatiana I am pretty sure he is. He is sort of like fictionalized version of Capote himself.

Catie Wow, suddenly I am a lot more interested in reading this. I have only seen the movie...and I love it but it sounds nothing like what you described here.

Regina I actually have not see the movie, only snippets that are shown at the Academy Awards are other specials like that. I am so glad this came up in my status this morning because I am definitely going to be reading this.

Tatiana Catie wrote: "Wow, suddenly I am a lot more interested in reading this. I have only seen the movie...and I love it but it sounds nothing like what you described here."

You should read it. It's very good and very short. Would be good for BvM too.

Catie Let me know if you want to read it together!

Regina Catie I do - I think that is a great idea. Let's check our er ... calenders and see if it can be fit in somewhere. :)

Catie I think it would be a great BvM. I am really curious about how different they are now.

Catie Great! I'll see if I can find it on audio. Like you, that's the main way I can fit in books these days. :)

Kaethe I'm fond of the film because I love Hepburn, but it is a very different animal from the book.

Regina LOL, my library has it in audio cassettes.

Catie I can't find it anywhere! Not even in print! Very odd.

Gloria Mundi Definitely recommend reading this. It's under 200 pages and I read it in one sitting in just a couple of hours or so. I also agree with Tatiana that this is a very dark book. The reason the whole MPDG persona didn't irritate me as much as it would usually is that it is a facade but one that has been worn for so long that it has become part of the personality. "She isn't a phony because she's a real phony. She believes all this crap she believes.", as one of the characters remarks.

There is a bit of a gay vibe about the narrator but it's pretty subtle, I thought. He could be just a prototype metrosexual? He is very ambiguous, not to forget creepy.

Regina Really? That is odd! My libraries have it in print, DVD, VHS and audio cassettes. LibriVox doesn't have it. Audible does not have it. Hmm.

Catie I am really looking forward to it Gloria - I love dark books.

Success! I have ordered it from paperbackswap.

Gloria Mundi I just found a Capote quote which I thought was quite good:

"The book was really rather bitter, and Holly Golightly
was real – a tough character, not an Audrey
Hepburn type at all. The film became a mawkish
valentine to New York City and Holly and, as a
result, was thin and pretty, whereas it should have
been rich and ugly."

I haven't seen the film so can't comment but I think that is a great description of the book - rich and ugly.

Regina Oh wow, what a great quote.

I just requested the book from my library. It says 178 pages.

Catie Apparently mine has already been mailed, so that's cool. Yes, I would agree that the movie is rather "pretty." It's funny but even though I do love the movie, its prettiness was probably what had held me back from reading the book the most. Everything you're saying about the book makes me think that I'll really enjoy it. Thanks Gloria!

Kaethe That's a great quote, Gloria.

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