Cecily's Reviews > Breakfast at Tiffany's

Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote
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really liked it
bookshelves: canada-and-usa, miscellaneous-fiction

The theme that unites Breakfast at Tiffany's with the three much shorter stories in this volume is the powerful bond of friendship between unexpected people or in unusual circumstances.

The title story is a male fantasy - so I wrote in 2010. Except that Capote was gay, so it's probably his idea of a typical straight man's fantasy. As Carmen says in a comment, she's what we'd now call a Manic Pixie Dream Girl.



Holly
The story is of course about Holly Golightly, a charming but utterly self-absorbed, mysterious fantasist, full of intriguing contradictions. She has big ambitions and none at all, but she does want the security of having breakfast at Tiffany's. She is often flirtatious, but at other times she plays the total innocent (e.g. getting her neighbour to put sun oil on her). At times she is oblivious to what people around her know and think, but at others, she is remarkably perspicacious about the personality and motives of those around her.

Knowing more about Holly only makes one realise how unknowable she is. When talking about her childhood, "it was elusive, nameless, placeless, an impressionistic recital".

Fred
At times, the narrator acts like a stalker of his attractive and enigmatic neighbour (examining her rubbish and investigating what she read at the library), yet he didn't alienate me. Perhaps one reason is the way that Holly uses men. As the men are happy to be used by her, where's the harm?

Film
It's written in such a visual way, that I'm not surprised it was turned into a film. (I hadn't seen the film when I read and wrote this, though I had seen pictures of Audrey Hepburn as Holly.)

Quirky quote
"A group of nuns who were trying on masks" (in a department store).

Quirky "fact"
Holly has a problem with Thursdays, much like Arthur Dent in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy!


The other, shorter stories in this volume

House of Flowers
This starts in a brothel in Port au Prince and the dialogue did not ring at all true to me (but I'm hardly an expert on Haitian prostitution). It explores the friendship between the working girls, and how love is hard to discern in such an environment.
What is love like? "You feel as though pepper had been sprinkled on your heart, as though tiny fish are swimming in your veins".

A Diamond Guitar
About friendship in prison and the effect of long-term incarceration on the psyche.

A Christmas Memory
A beautiful story of the self-made traditions that form a loving bond between a young boy and an elderly relative.


Note: I updated this review in April 2018, picking up on comments below - without rereading the book!
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Reading Progress

June 6, 2010 – Started Reading
June 6, 2010 – Shelved
June 6, 2010 – Shelved as: canada-and-usa
June 6, 2010 – Shelved as: miscellaneous-fiction
June 21, 2010 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-50 of 55 (55 new)


message 1: by Manny (new)

Manny Your words are a great comfort to everyone who, like me, enjoys stalking beautiful, mysterious, manipulative women! Thank you.


Paul Bryant not sure I would recommend the movie, it has a few problems...


message 3: by Cecily (last edited Jun 02, 2013 01:54AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Cecily Manny wrote: "Your words are a great comfort to everyone who, like me, enjoys stalking beautiful, mysterious, manipulative women! Thank you."

You say that as if it's a good thing, but I'm not sure that it is!


Cecily Paul wrote: "not sure I would recommend the movie, it has a few problems..."

I have seen the film since I first wrote this review. It was different in some ways, as adaptations invariably are, but it had a charm of its own.


message 5: by Manny (new)

Manny I admit there are two sides to every question, but the judge has already explained the other side to me at some length.


message 6: by [deleted user] (new)

As the men are happy to be used by her, where's the harm?

Story of my life. No harm. No foul. Right? Saw the movie; don't recall the sun oil .


Carmen Great review! I think I saw the MC a bit differently than you did, which is fascinating. :)


Cecily Carmen wrote: "Great review! I think I saw the MC a bit differently than you did, which is fascinating. :)"

Yes, we did, which is one of the reasons I liked your review so much!


message 9: by HBalikov (new)

HBalikov Is there any forward or introduction that discussion the possible autobiographical aspects of these stories?


Cecily HBalikov wrote: "Is there any forward or introduction that discussion the possible autobiographical aspects of these stories?"

Interesting question, but I'm not sure of the answer. This is an old review, and I don't have my copy to hand.
But I expect the internet in general, or biography of Capote might be a better bet anyway. Sorry not to be more help.


message 11: by HBalikov (new)

HBalikov Cecily wrote: "HBalikov wrote: "Is there any forward or introduction that discussion the possible autobiographical aspects of these stories?"

Interesting question, but I'm not sure of the answer. This is an old ..."


Thanks, Cecily. Not to worry


message 12: by Zoeb (new) - added it

Zoeb Nice review, Carmen!


Cecily Zoeb wrote: "Nice review, Carmen!"

Carmen did indeed write a very good review, but this one is by another woman with a six-letter name that begins with C - me, Cecily!


message 14: by Zoeb (new) - added it

Zoeb Cecily wrote: "Zoeb wrote: "Nice review, Carmen!"

Carmen did indeed write a very good review, but this one is by another woman with a six-letter name that begins with C - me, Cecily!"


My bad, Cecily...actually I got confused between both the reviews...pleased to meet you nevertheless and nice, candid review!


message 15: by Jan-Maat (new)

Jan-Maat I'm curious Cecily that you describe breakfast at tiffanies as a male fantasy - wasn't capote gay? Is Golightly an idealised version of himself or his ideal, male lover, or is the idea that a pure friendship can exist when both parties are in pursuit of the same sexual and Romantic targets?
Or is capote catering to what he imagines a heterosexual romantic context would be like?


message 16: by Cecily (last edited Apr 13, 2018 06:20AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Cecily Jan-Maat wrote: "I'm curious Cecily that you describe breakfast at tiffanies as a male fantasy - wasn't capote gay?..."

An excellent question, to which I don't really know the answer. Eight years ago, I read more superficially and possibly wasn't conscious of the fact Capote was gay. I suggest you take my comment at face value: that I thought he was portraying the stereotypical (straight) male fantasy - regardless of whether he shared it. Maybe he wrote it that way because he was actually bisexual (I've no idea), or just because he thought it would sell better?

For what I remember of the book, both Holly and Fred have motives that are not entirely pure and selfless love or romance.


message 17: by Zoeb (new) - added it

Zoeb Jan-Maat wrote: "I'm curious Cecily that you describe breakfast at tiffanies as a male fantasy - wasn't capote gay? Is Golightly an idealised version of himself or his ideal, male lover, or is the idea that a pure ..."

I would go with the latter of the ideas and it could be very much his take on what kind of a girl would sweep a heterosexual man off his feet.


Cecily Zoeb wrote: "I would go with the latter of the ideas ..."

It's a shame one can't add polls to reviews and comments, isn't it?


message 19: by Zoeb (new) - added it

Zoeb Cecily wrote: "Zoeb wrote: "I would go with the latter of the ideas ..."

It's a shame one can't add polls to reviews and comments, isn't it?"


Yes, I wish there could be some polls so that we could choose what we thought or felt from the book...


Carmen Well, yes, I see what Cecily is saying. Holly = typical manic pixie dream girl, am I right? :)


message 21: by Cecily (last edited Apr 13, 2018 12:26PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Cecily Carmen wrote: "Well, yes, I see what Cecily is saying. Holly = typical manic pixie dream girl, am I right? :)"

Yes!! Exactly. But I'm not sure I knew the term when I wrote it. I really need to update this review, especially now people are noticing it, but that feels a bit of a cheat when I've not read it recently and don't remember it in detail.


Carmen Yes!! Exactly. But I'm not sure I knew the term when I wrote it. I really need to update this review, especially now people are noticing it, but that feels a bit of a cheat when I've not read it recently and don't remember it in detail.

Don't sweat it. And do whatever you want.


message 23: by Jan-Maat (new)

Jan-Maat Cecily wrote: "Carmen wrote: "Well, yes, I see what Cecily is saying. Holly = typical manic pixie dream girl, am I right? :)"

Yes!! Exactly. But I'm not sure I knew the term when I wrote it. I really need to upd..."


yeah Cecily - you cheat! How dare you receive atention for an old review now that you've forgotten the detail of the book! :p


message 24: by Kalliope (new)

Kalliope I was thinking of reading this...


Cecily Jan-Maat wrote: "yeah Cecily - you cheat! How dare you receive atention for an old review now that you've forgotten the detail of the book! :p ..."

Ha ha. It was Carmen who started it, then you guys all came along...
(Not that I'm complaining!)


Cecily Kalliope wrote: "I was thinking of reading this..."

It's a classic, and quite short. I'm sure you'd write a better review than this - and beautifully illustrated as well.


Caroline I'd forgotten that Holly had trouble with Thursdays. That set me thinking. I think now that I've retired it is Sundays that get my goat. The shops shut until 10am, even the essential ones, and then all those Sunday tourists prowling the streets, blocking the pavements and window gawping... Definitely Sundays.


message 28: by Mary (new)

Mary Have you read Handcarved Coffins - in Music for Chameleons I think.


message 29: by Cecily (last edited Apr 14, 2018 03:54AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Cecily Caroline wrote: "I'd forgotten that Holly had trouble with Thursdays. That set me thinking. I think now that I've retired it is Sundays that get my goat..."

I understand your frustration with Sundays (not that we have hordes of tourists here), but I'd have thought that less of a frustration once retired because you have more choice about when to do things.

When the clocks change, we only change our label for the sun's position in the sky. We don't get any more or less daylight, but just shift when we do things. Nothing actually changes astronomically. What if you tried something similar with days of the week?!

Alternatively, devote Sundays to reading and GR.


Cecily Mary wrote: "Have you read Handcarved Coffins - in Music for Chameleons I think."

I haven't. Is it good?


message 31: by Lisa (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lisa Oh, you make me want to reread this one, Cecily. There is something sostrange and sad and lighthearted in Holly that affects me in the deeper levels of my being. But still, most of the time, I don't think of her at all...


Cecily Lisa wrote: "Oh, you make me want to reread this one, Cecily. There is something sostrange and sad and lighthearted in Holly that affects me in the deeper levels of my being..."

I'm increasingly feeling I really ought to reread this, given all the new comments here.


message 33: by Caroline (last edited Apr 14, 2018 09:40AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Caroline I love the originality of your thinking Cecily!

Re. tourists, I didn't mean people from other places, but rather all sorts of people seem to come out of the woodwork who don't normally go shopping. Great-great grandfathers, people who seem never to have seen a special offer before, people who like walking 3 abreast on a narrow pavement. Sheesh! Don't get me started...

But of course following your ideas I shall simply rethink my Sundays, and thus make them more benign :O)


Julie Cecily -- I will now demonstrate my HollyGoLightly shallowness and say, I just loved the cartoon! Not that it wasn't a fun review, but the comic characters were the best! For some reason, it struck me as particularly funny (the way that some things do for no reason whatsoever) and I can't stop laughing.

Always loved this story. Great review, as always!

As an added thought to the question of Capote's being gay and writing a"traditional male fantasy": I don't see a disconnect. I don't see why a gay man cannot write about issues other than homosexuality, with convincing ability. Good writers write from many voices not their own, with great intelligence and comprehension. (Just adding some thoughts to the stream-of-consciousness flow on being gay, and a writer.)

Thanks for the morning cartoon! : )


message 35: by Cecily (last edited Apr 15, 2018 06:42AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Cecily Julie wrote: "Cecily -- I will now demonstrate my HollyGoLightly shallowness and say, I just loved the cartoon!..."

If I thought it was shallow in a negative way, I wouldn't have added it. :)

Julie wrote: "to the question of Capote's being gay and writing a"traditional male fantasy": I don't see a disconnect...."

No, no disconnect, but worth noting, I think. It's also pertinent the other way round. I'm currently reading Call Me by Your Name, which is a gay love story. I, a straight woman, am really enjoying it, but find myself wondering if some straight men might be less likely to.

Thanks, Julie.


message 36: by Kathleen (new)

Kathleen You make me want to read this. I had always avoided it because I have such a clear picture of Audrey Hepburn, George Peppard, and Buddy Ebsen—and of course, the beautiful music. But you make the story sound SO much better (and I could always hum to myself while I read).


Cecily Kathleen wrote: "You make me want to read this. I had always avoided it because I have such a clear picture of Audrey Hepburn..."

I hope you do read it and, more importantly, enjoy it. It doesn't take long, but is worth it, imo.


message 38: by Sandi (new) - added it

Sandi I swear I've read this but it says I haven't. Thanks to your review it's on my list!


Cecily Sandi wrote: "I swear I've read this but it says I haven't. Thanks to your review it's on my list!"

GR isn't always right. And even when it is, maybe you read it before you were on GR?


message 40: by Apatt (last edited Apr 15, 2018 06:35PM) (new)

Apatt Last time I Liked a Breakfast at Tiffany's review I didn't see yours? Must be a different edition.
Nice cartoon but I was hoping for a pic of someone mooning a river 😉
How can you not have seen the film? You must be deliberately avoiding it like the plague 🤣
Perhaps this is why:



Carmen Great re-haul! Well done!


Cecily Apatt wrote: "How can you not have seen the film? You must be deliberately avoiding it like the plague 🤣
Perhaps this is why:"


I have seen the film since I originally wrote the review. Mickey Rooney yellowing-up? Ugh! And as a still image, it's worse! Thanks for ruining my breakfast!
;)


Cecily Carmen wrote: "Great re-haul! Well done!"

Thanks, Carmen.


message 44: by Apatt (new)

Apatt Cecily wrote: "And as a still image, it's worse! Thanks for ruining my breakfast!..."

I hope the people at Tiffany's didn't mind 😉
Have you read the sequel Lunch at McDonald's?


Cecily Apatt wrote: "Have you read the sequel Lunch at McDonald's?"

I would hope to go up, rather than down in life, so no McDonald's, please.

Or maybe sideways. To quote Steven Wright:
“I went to a restaurant that serves "breakfast at any time" so I ordered French toast during the Renaissance.”


message 46: by Greg (new) - added it

Greg I must get around tothis!


message 47: by Apatt (new)

Apatt Cecily wrote: "breakfast at any time" so I ordered French toast during the Renaissance...”

🤣 I used to have a TXT file of his quotes, super dead-pan delivery!



message 48: by Sharyl (new)

Sharyl That's a wonderful description of Holly, and I must actually read this soon! Great review, Cecily.


Cecily Greg wrote: "I must get around tothis!"

I hope you do, and that you enjoy it.


Cecily Apatt wrote: "I used to have a TXT file of his quotes, super dead-pan delivery!"

I had one, too! But it's easy to find them online now.

A loooong time ago, I saw him live. At least, I think he was.
;)


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